Paean to the perfect partner favoured by many a wedding reader is not by Ayres, the poet has revealed. So who did write it?
The worlds of poetry and weddings have been rocked to their twin foundations this week by a startling revelation: an oft-quoted, apparently much-loved verse that has been a mainstay of nuptials for years isn't by the nation's doyenne of doggerel, Pam Ayres.
Emotional readings of He Never Leaves the Seat Up have featured in countless weddings up and down the country; the poem is regularly recommended on those marriage websites that offer guidance on readings for the big day. And it is generally identified as the work of Ayres.
At first glance, it certainly seems to have the ring of Ayres, who shot to fame with her deadpan delivery of domestic poetry on the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1975 (like Britain's Got Talent, kids, but without Simon Cowell or hashtags). "He never leaves the seat up / Or wet towels upon the floor," it begins. "The toothpaste has the lid on / And he always shuts the door!". Shades of Yes I'll Marry You, My Dear, for sure.
But on her official Twitter feed this week, Ayres finally broke her silence and declared that this paean to the perfect partner was nothing to do with her. "Just to clarify," she wrote, "On the internet there is a poem popular at weddings about leaving the seat up. My name is on it, but I did not write it."
Those couples who based the biggest day of their lives around this ode ("He'll be more than just her husband / He'll also be her friend / And she'll be more than just his wife / She'll be his soulmate till the end") will no doubt be shaken by the revelations.
Take the wedding of Kim and Jeff, for example, where pal Bryan was filmed "reading Pam Ayres' He Never Leaves the Seat Up at our wedding on 28 October 2009 in Bali, Indonesia". Or MsChazzer who – while pointing out "personally, I can't stand Pam Ayres" – added: "My friend had another Pam Ayres one, something about leaving the toilet seat up? [She] wanted something non-soppy and amusing and it fitted the bill for her." And then Emma, who responded to Pam's announcement on Twitter: "I am sad to read this. I chose this as a reading at our wedding especially as I thought you had!" Even officialdom is left with egg on its face: this wedding guide put together by Darlington council as recently as last November suggests He Never Left the Seat Up as a reading, attributing it to Ayres.
With Ayres – whose autobiography, The Necessary Aptitude, came out in paperback this week – out of the running, the question remains: just who did write He Never Left the Seat Up?