The line of duty

I was spotted recently at the royal wedding, and ever since then my phone hasn’t stopped ringing:

— Was that you with the 7th Earl of Melmontshire?

— Was that you with Demerara De Courcy-Devereux? Is she as delightful as they say?

— Was that you with Prince Percival Poggenpohl von Schoenberg-Schlesvig-Holstein?

— Was that you shagging a horse behind the privet hedge?

Of course, one doesn’t confirm or deny anything, but I refer the interested reader to the next editions of Town & Country and Horse & Garter, and to my forthcoming Compendium of Upper-class Nancy-boys & Tarts (C-NTS).

All in the line of duty.


 

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Going low

See the lowly earthworm
as he crawls along the ground.
Now there’s a lesson for us all
— wisdom most profound.

The earthworm’s not ambitious,
for money or for fame,
he pays no heed to politics,
doesn’t know the leader’s name,

He doesn’t have a passport,
so he can never lose it,
and even if he had a phone
I’m sure he’d never use it.

He has no fear of terrorists,
or planes that get mislaid,
though he frets a little sometimes
about the gardener’s spade.

Oh to be an earthworm,
the lowest of the low!
If I keep writing crap like this,
I won’t have far to go.


 

Dreams

How can I achieve my dreams
when all about me this world seems
as mad as summer nights in Tanganyika?

Can I ever be, as I so wish to be,
the man who put the chic in chicken tikka?

Will I ever sail my twemlow across the Bering Sea?
Will the beldams ever drop their drawers as soon as look at me?

Will I win the Nobel Prize, or bask in Belle’s adoring eyes?
Will I ever tell myself the truth, instead of telling lies?


The onset

Like most people, I stopped buying from Rolls Royce in 2002, following the ‘faux mahogany’ scandal.  I can still remember when that story broke, just as I was shimmering down the Boulevard Raspail in a Silver Shadow II  (the two-door version, by Mulliner Park Ward). I stopped at the nearest Concessionnaire and traded it in for an Aston Martin DB7 Zagato.

But now, almost two decades later, I’m beginning to re-assess my thinking on that memorable day. Is it age, perhaps, and with it, the onset of wisdom? Or is it that indefinable quality that only Rolls Royce can offer the true devotee?

No, it’s just that some bastard stole my car, and I’ve got to get home. Nanny’s made a special cake for my birthday.


 

Cook’s Corner

Try Twemlow’s ‘Country Chicken’
if you think you might be missin’
out on protein or some other
requisites.

Fry it up with delmars
and pilbeams from a can,
then serve it hot, and like as not,
you’ll feel a whole new man.

Try Smeeton’s ‘Pungent Pickle’
if your tastebuds need a tickle,
or your palate is as pallid as a corpse.

Try Smeeton’s with Thai sausage
or with leek and onion potage:
you’ll be laughing like a horse with no remorse.


 

Foot soldiers

 

Breakthroughs in podiatry
don’t often make the news,
but all those instep insights
mean you do get the proper shoes.

Take Elmer Twilb, Podiatrist,
as our first example:
without his pioneering work
I’d neither stomp nor trample.

Let’s not forget good Dr Scholl,
the Hero of the Callous.
To wear his comfy toe-pads
is to glide about a palace.

Podiatrist, chiropodist,
call them what you will,
I praise them at the shoe store
every time I foot the bill.


 

Twemlow’s Herbarium

Acacia Hermetica, good for snakebite.
Arsesmart, a balm for all manner of evil.
Aqua Salva, can revive a dead cow.
Aqua Vita, can quell a noisy beldam.
Belmain, prevents scrofulus in lawyers and infants.
Bishop’s Crowbar, disperses wicked thoughts.
Blinny, blent with cowslips, is good for sickly porkers.
Derbyshire Kale, induces night-sweats and fevers.
Chickwort, a salve for knotted pilbeams; also good against earthquakes.
Duckweed, cures all manner of pustules, black kelbs, and botches.
Fumaria, eases the bilious flux in geese and clergy.
Horse Tar, applied to the nether lips, can cure the scummox.
Ibex Cincinnatus, cools the brainpan and relieves guilt.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit, good for pregnant beldams.
Lemanwort, good against hypocrites.
Sorrel, taken at night, a caustic for pungency.
Tincture of Bezel, good against calamity.
Trumpwort, good for a laugh.
Verba Ludica, good for a lively brainpan.


Society column

Mantled in Murmansk mink, Leonora Cazenove stepped gracefully from a cab in Drury Lane, amid a throng of well-wishers. She looked radiant in a Chloe Deluce evening dress and sequined shoes by Patrice. Her escort for the evening, Honeyfritz Belmondo, was effervescent in a velvet ensemble and a crimson Oscar Wilde hat.  He smiled and waved flamboyantly to the crowd, while Leonora, more reserved, glided quickly into the brilliantly-lit foyer. The fabulous pair had arrived for the opening night of Give Us a Dab o’ That, a light-hearted farce from the pen of Lionel Smooch.

This is the third time the celebrity duo have been spotted together, so rumours are swirling about in the beau-monde. Has Leonora found love again, following her very public split from Joachim Cumbersnatch? Can playboy Honeyfritz finally put an end to those sordid rumours about his personal life? I, for one, have never believed the catty innuendae of the gutter press (though the hat doesn’t help, Honeyfritz, dear), and I wish the couple several weeks of happiness together.


The professor & the protons

Professor Twilb, the physicist,
was weary night and day,
cos all his little protons
would not line up and say:

‘I’m a happy little proton
and I’m easy to predict.
Just listen to Professor Twilb,
he’s got the whole thing licked.’

Instead of which, those protons
dance in arcs and arabesques,
cavorting like delinquents,
their trajectories just a guess.

‘How I hate those little bastards!’,
said the weary physicist.
‘I’ll never understand them,
or predict their turns and twists.’

Just then a senior proton
(older than the rest)
stood up and cleared his tiny throat
and puffed his tiny chest.

He said: ‘Don’t fret, Professor,
you’re not the first or last
to be puzzled by us protons
as we skip and caper past’.

‘We’ve been around a long time,
(since time began, at least)
and we’ll still be here long after
your physics is deceased.

By then, of course, you’ll be with us,
dancing pastourelles.
So why not turn your microscope
and analyse yourself?


 

Godawful

An Arctic blast came rasping
through my squalid little home,
carving gelid pathways
through my brittle little bones.

It tore the sheeting from my roof,
and scalped me as it raged:
now I sit here naked-pated
in my empty little cage.

Overhead, I see the stars
— they seem frozen just like me:
just how squalid does it get
in God’s awful axletree?


The poet & his neighbours

He sits around at home all day,
staring into space,
wearing silk pyjamas
and a scowl upon his face.

— It’s true I don’t go out much,
I stay in my own place,
but I don’t wear silk pyjamas
on my face.

The little kids are scared of him,
they call him ‘Bugaboo’,
and of course he lives alone,
odd as a boot and a shoe.

— I used to have a beldam
who shared my hearth and home,
but you won’t know what odd is
until you’ve met that crone.

He doesn’t have a TV,
doesn’t use the internet.
I’ve heard he reads a lot of books,
so what would you expect?

— Most people’s lives are not like mine;
I sometimes wish they were.
Then they might start to understand
why I just do not care.


How to grow old

Oh I do like reminiscing
about everything that’s missing
from life today compared with yesteryear.

Them was the Good Old Days, them was,
we was poor, but we was pos
— thinking back, I often shed a tear.

Everyone was happy,
from the hangman to the chappie
who worked all day for breadcrumbs and warm beer.

I remember my dear mother
— can there ever be another?
how she loved the pain of childbirth, every year.

My old Dad jumped from Vauxhall Bridge
— endless debts and endless kids,
but still we always wallowed in good cheer.

The Vicar told us God above
looked down on us with burning love,
so we grinned all day like morons, ear to ear.

I feel sorry for the kids today, in the ‘Information Age’,
cos if you can’t delude yourself, you’ll never reach old age.


 

Absolute crackers

Cheese and crackers make a snack,
but can they fill a void?

— Depends on its dimensions:
how big is it? How woide?

I have in mind an average void,
measured lengthways, soide to soide.

—  In that case, cheese and crackers
can surely be deployed.

But then, which cheese and crackers
are best to fill a void?

— Always go for gluten-free,
the doctors haven’t loid.

Bath Olivers or Grahams?
How would you decoide?

Should a tangy plum-based chutney
be served up on the soide?

Should the cracker pierce the Stilton
as the bridegroom does his broide?

— There are some conversations
that it’s better to avoid.


 

Talkshow


Let’s turn to Herman Honeypot
and ask if he has thought a lot
about the plight of lemurs
in Lahore:

‘Don’t talk to me of lemurs,
those Devils of Lahore!
I’ve thought of nothing else
since I was four.’

‘When I was four, in Lahore,
my nana said to me
‘See the cutesy lemurs,
now ain’t they fun to see?’

‘Just then a mangy lemur
leaped right on top of me,
grabbed me by the twemlows
and sneered with vicious glee!’

‘Since then I can’t come eye to eye
with lemurs in Lahore.
Imagine being twemlowed
at the ripe old age of four!’

Oh the dangers of the talkshow!
We’ve touched a painful spot!
Let’s leave it now, and thank our guest,
Herman Honeypot. 


Spring is sprung

Professor Delmar Delagrange did something really very strange
last time he snuck in here for cakes and ale.

He said ’Now that spring is coming and the hedgerows all are humming,
why don’t we stop pretending that we’re sane?’

‘Why don’t we just come out and say that we’re as mad as Hogmanay,
or (better still) those scholars from Louvain?’

Then Delmar rose to his full height, and bidding Biddy bring a light,
he strode up to the bar and grabbed the rail.

With one prodigious leap — like a dolphin from the deep —
he stood up on the bar and wagged his tail.

‘I’m as mad as any zany from the land of Cockamamie,
and now that spring is sprung I’m off the scale.’

Then Delmar did a drunken dance, dropped his drab scholastic pants,
and cartwheeled off the bar — to no avail.

The floor rose up to meet him (as if it were to greet him),
and he cracked his skull against a metal pail.

Then Delmar, overwrought, crept like an afterthought,
across the floor and out, like a snail.


 

The poet bemused

Leonora Casteneda
has been on the phone once more,
looking for more syllables
to add to her rich store.

I said ‘Leonora, Ma Tresora,
don’t you think you have enough?
Imagine if your moniker
was Dee or Dolly Duff?’

‘Don’t syllabalise to me, young man!’,
said Leonora, tartly.
‘If you do, you’ll lose your Muse,
and I don’t mean partly.’

Ok, Mizz Casteneda,
anything you say!
I’ll try to find more syllables
to bedeck your sobriquet.

And so the search continues
in the Land of Logopeda.
Who’d want to be a poet,
with a Muse like Casteneda?

Up and down the shelves I squint
from A to Zarzaroma.
Who’d want to be a poet,
with a Muse like Leonora?


 

Folly whacked

Whack fol-de-dido,
whack fol-de-day,
whack fol-de-diddle-o,
and whack fol-de-day.

These and similar diddly-doos have been foisted on us for centuries, especially by purveyors of traditional folk music, aka sheep-shaggers.

So it falls to me, your humble servant, to whack the folly from such metrical inanities, and to restore propriety, decorum, and seemliness to our musical lineage.

So here goes:

With a rinky-dinky-do
and a rinky-dinky-day,
come all ye lads and lassies,
and listen to my lay!

[Catweazle has left the building.]


Captain Tandy addresses his crew, Portsmouth Harbour, 12 May AD 1846.

Welcome aboard, men! We’re about to cast off on our great adventure! But before we do, remember this:

A ship without men is like a dog without a tail. A dog can’t wag its tail if it hasn’t got one, and a man without a ship…. I mean a ship without a sail can’t wag the dog, in either direction. No! A voyage like ours calls for loyalty, paternity, lobotomy, deuteronomy — all the things we’ve cherished since boyhood, all those years ago, when we were callow lads up to no good behind the….  And just as a boy loves his dog, even if it has no tail, a sailor loves his ship, even if it has no boy.

And remember this too, men: The sea is a cruel mistress. Oh, by G—d, she is cruel! She grabs a man by the twemlows and never lets go. Yes men, it will be a long voyage and a hard one. That much is self-evident!  But we must never forget…. never forget!…. that victory is the handmaid of hard work, and hard work maketh the man, and the man is mightier than the sword that launched a thousand ships that pass in the night. In the words of Ebeneezer Squeeze of Yarmouth….

We’re losing the light, Captain. 

Thank you, Mr Pilbeam. That’s right: Boozing at night will not be permitted on board, at any time! Any man found innoculated will be hanged from the topgallant, and any man who is not hanged will be incarcerated by the light of the silvery moon that passeth all understanding. Yes, very soon, by the light of the moon, we’ll cast off upon life’s great ocean, like a dog without a pail…. a boy without a tail…. a pale moon shining on the silvery sea, so bring back my bonny young lassie to me. In the words of Philip the Flippant of Flanders….

Cast off! Cast off!

….and all who sail in her.


 

Music in time


The moon is a boon
when you croon a tune,
but you lose the boon
if you croon at noon. 

You see, a boon may be said to arise
from the confluence of moon and croon,
whereas the confluence of noon and croon
gives rise to no comparable boon.

In short, while the Boon-Croon Hypothesis
is accurate as far as it goes,
the non-confluence of moon and noon
limits its application, as everyone knows.

All together now:

The moon is a boon
when you croon a tune,
but you lose the boon
if you croon at noon.