You can tell a toddler's party by the giggles,
A Terminator by his neural net,
A Page Three stunna by the pair she jiggles,
A Lloyds' "name" by his ever-mounting debt.
You can tell the vultures by the bones they pick at,
And those who can from those who can't and teach.
You know it's Blackpool by the Kiss-Me-Quick hat,
And Britain by the dog turds on the beach.
You can tell a workaholic from a shirker,
You can spot who's on the up or on the game,
You can tell a Spartan hoplite from a Gurkha,
But who can tell love's glory from its shame?
You can tell a junkie by his store of needles,
And a glutton by the way he grips his fork,
A beggar by that voice so full of wheedles,
And engineers by how they talk of torque.
You can tell a rugby-player by his jockstrap,
A health fanatic by the way he jogs.
You can tell an Arctic hunter by his fox-trap,
And a girl's enthusiasm by her snogs.
You can maybe tell a chainsaw from a bandsaw;
You can surely tell John Major from John Wayne.
Even Hamlet knew a hawk was not a handsaw,
But who can tell love's pleasure from its pain?
You can tell a sales rep's fiddles on expenses,
And Spenser's Faerie Queene from Virgil's Gnat;
Grandmasters by Sicilian Defences,
Ernst Blofeld by the way he strokes his cat.
You can tell a Gertrude Jekyll by her garden
And M.I.5 by all those Russian moles.
You can tell a Casanova by his hard on,
And Sarajevo homes by bullet-holes.
You can tell a Sherpa Tensing from a Yeti,
Neil Hamilton from White Knight Martin Bell,
St Francis of Assisi from Paul Getty,
But who can tell love's heaven from its hell?
You can tell a rising journo by his byline,
And therapists by how they seem to care.
You recognise Manhattan by the skyline
And Chernobyl by a something in the air.
You know what's fillet steak and what is gristle;
You distinguish docile sheep from randy goats.
An apostle you can judge by his epistle,
Politicians by how fast they turn their coats.
You can tell the shooting lobby by their shooters,
The rush hour by its far-from-rushing flow.
In Turing Tests you know folk from computers,
But who can tell love's blessings from its woe?
You can tell a chimpanzee by its banana,
You can tell a Guinness drinker by his paunch,
A Buddhist by his longing for Nirvana
And a failing magazine by its relaunch.
You can always tell a Petrarch by his Laura,
And imaginary numbers by their squares,
You know which is senor and which senora;
You can separate a hippie from his flares.
You can tell a great conductor by his baton,
You can tell a Titian from a Damien Hirst
You can tell who's been promoted, who's been shat on -
But who can tell love's finest from its worst?
And who can measure love's specific gravity
Or sink a plummet to its ocean bed,
Or separate its dream from its depravity,
Or sift the living feelings from the dead?
For love is both cold tea and dry Martini,
Its interface is so insanely great,
It's Heavy Metal and it's Paganini;
Its Berlin wall divides desire and hate.
Love's weather's ever-changing. Storm or no storm,
It feels like Spring although the Winter nips.
But whether love's a heatwave or a snowstorm,
The truth of love is found on lovers' lips.
K.M. Payne and George Simmers
If you've any comments on their poem,
will be pleased to hear from you.