I ate it my way, by Tom Riley

Tom Riley

Tom Riley grew up in an orphanage where he often didn’t get enough to eat. This is version of “My way”, telling the story of his life, and how he came to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease.


There was a time, when I was young,

And hadn't such a fussy tongue,

I'd eat the food meant for the hens,

I carried to their scratchy pens,

And cast an eye into the bin,

To see what morsel nestled in,

And searched for sweets along the street

That other children wouldn't eat.

And thanked the Lord, with fervent word,

That it came my way.


A callow youth with bristly chin,

The Royal Air Force took me in.

Lucullus' feasts were now my fare,

My stomach now without a care.

Sausage and spuds and mashed up 'neeps,

Hot shepherd’s pie in greasy heaps,

My brother airmen's dainty tastes

Created piles of scrummy waste.

Without a thought their plate they caught

And slid it my way.


But married now with well-paid job,

I set to work with grill and hob.

Three cooked up meals I'd every day,

With chomping teeth I'd then make hay.

Six streaky rashers from the pig,

And double eggs and tea to swig,

And Hovis, fresh thick buttered crumb,

Deep ginger jam; boy was I dumb.

My belly, well, began to swell,

It swelled the round way.


I set to sweeties with a will,

Of choc'late boxes had my fill,

With creamy cakes I filled my face,

Drank good red wine by dozen case.

With crème brulee I ’mazed my guests,

Plied good brown sugar, Orange zests,

The strawb'ry season, what a dream!

Sweet sugar coats and baths of cream.

My dentist prim, looked very grim;

And had it his way.


But listen now, my great fat rump,

Was firmly planted on life's dump

For erring wife without a care,

For manly comforts looked elsewhere.

In passions rage with visage stern

I started calories to burn.

My bulk reduced, I marked it then

From fifteen stone to nearer ten.

But as for her, my once so fair;

She went her own way.


That ill wind ceased, I had the wit

To realise that I was fit.

There started now a halcyon time,

More wedding bells began to chime,

My lovely Suzy, now began

To build anew the broken man.

Good modest fare was now my food;

Warm family joys, an impish brood.

To say, I'd dare, about my care

She went the right way.


E'en so alas, it came to pass,

In spite of losing my fat arse,

The damage done in previous years,

Reduced my family to tears.

A sickly bed in King's heart ward,

(The best the N.H.S. afford,)

And there upon the trolley grim,

The smiling nurses rolled me in.

And Desai's team, it did so seem,

They: did it their way.


Within a week, I left the ward,

New gaskets done and pump rebored,

My sprightly step with effort hard,

Barely took me half a yard,

But wifely goad and iron will,

Soon had me breasting every hill,

Till, wonders day! with family smiles,

Peregrinations grew to miles.

The battle won, I waded on,

Along the road-way.


And now, my palate learn'd the joys,-

In protest now I made no noise-

Of lettuce leaf and green mung bean,

Of wholemeal bread and margarine,

Sos-mix fried with a healthy grease,

For pudding, fruit; a single piece,

And mill-raw bran the costive's doom,

(Short tenancy of smallest room.)

With merry song, I swanned along

The health-freak's highway.


But yet, tho' I've, paid for my sins,

I times recall those steaming bins,

And though I'm sensible of gain,

No puffing breath, no burning pain;

I sometimes, tender conscience ease,

And steal another piece of cheese.

With gut of iron, and catholic taste,

I foraged wide and scoffed in haste.

Tho' times were bad, that's all I had;

I ate it my way!

The poems published in this section are creative writing by Heart Matters readers. They should not be taken as medical advice.

It isn’t always easy to express your emotions, but writing poetry can be a way of putting your feelings down on paper which many people find helpful. If you’d like your poem about any aspect of heart disease or caring for someone to appear in this section, email it to hmeditor@bhf.org.uk

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