A poem about a German pilot who came to tea

This is the poem displayed in the loo of a North London café that prompted a BBC producer to offer me a poet in residence slot on ‘Weekend’ on the World Service. The idea for the poem came from a press quote mentioned by Jeremy Paxman in his book ‘The English’.

On 14 August 1940, the Daily Express reported that Mrs Betty Tylee and Miss Jean Smithson approached a downed German pilot. They declined to shoot him and instead offered him a cup of tea.

Will You Shoot Me Now?

No, we don’t do that in England
said Mrs Betty Tylee
would you like a cup of tea?
Though one thing we do do
is put milk in first.

The military police
aren’t due until three
said Miss Jean Smithson
as she rummaged in
the biscuit tin.
Gosh, your Messerschmitt’s in
a bit of a mess.

Not to mention my garden
said Mrs Betty Tylee
Here’s a teaspoon.

Then she stabbed him with
her garden shears.