G.K.Chesterton: ‘Wine And Water’

 (Poem No.47 of my favourite short poems)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874 – 1936), was an English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic.  He was a large man, standing 6 feet 4 inches and weighing over 20 stone (130 kg).  His girth, perhaps in part due to his great fondness for wine,  occasioned a famous incident when he remarked to his friend George Bernard Shaw  “Look at you, anyone would think a famine had struck England.”  Shaw retorted, “To look at you, anyone would think you have caused it”.

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Wine And Water

Old Noah he had an ostrich farm and fowls on the largest scale,
He ate his egg with a ladle in a egg-cup big as a pail,
And the soup he took was Elephant Soup and fish he took was Whale,
But they all were small to the cellar he took when he set out to sail,
And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine,
“I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.”

The cataract of the cliff of heaven fell blinding off the brink
As if it would wash the stars away as suds go down a sink,
The seven heavens came roaring down for the throats of hell to drink,
And Noah he cocked his eye and said, “It looks like rain, I think,
The water has drowned the Matterhorn as deep as a Mendip mine,
But I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.”

But Noah he sinned, and we have sinned; on tipsy feet we trod,
Till a great big black teetotaller was sent to us for a rod,
And you can’t get wine at a P.S.A., or chapel, or Eisteddfod,
For the Curse of Water has come again because of the wrath of God,
And water is on the Bishop’s board and the Higher Thinker’s shrine,
But I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

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To reinforce Chesterton’s delight in the drinking of wine, I quote a verse from another of his poems on the same subject . . . 

“Feast on wine or fast on water,
And your honour shall stand sure …
If an angel out of heaven
Brings you other things to drink,
Thank him for his kind attentions,
Go and pour them down the sink.”

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SQUARE-BASHING

RAF Hednesford 1953

SQUARE-BASHING

Eight weeks I bashed that square,
Pounded that acre of ground.
Hurt and ached and bled,
The experience was profound.

“Serve your country’s need”
That is what they said,
“Don’t let the enemy win,
Suffer pain instead.

We need more cannon fodder,
Don’t let your country down,
So let’s see what you’re made of,
And get rid of that frown.”

And so I did my service,
My nation needed me.
Became a lowly sprog
By government decree.

Placed in a special POM flight
Given ‘housewife’, fork, and knife,
With such items in my kit-bag
I was number-stamped for life.

“Lay your kit out pronto
Neatly on your bed.
I want to see you bleeding”,
That’s what our corporal said.

Then out to the parade ground,
Twice daily we would drill
Until I ached all over,
Felt positively ill.

I pulled out all the stops,
To keep in step I tried,
But what I wished to do was
To run away and hide.

Route marching was no joke,
‘God Bless the Union Jack’.
I sweated and I faded
With full pack on my back.

Assault Courses were great fun,
Not for us, for our tormentors,
Braving tunnels, barbed wire and mud,
They crucified dissenters.

I cut the grass with scissors,
Painted pebbles white,
Ironed my boots with polish,
All this to help me fight.

I did my share of jankers,
Scrubbed latrines that stank,
Peeled countless grey potatoes,
Flushed out the septic tank.

Cleaned my rifle daily,
Bren guns I dismantled,
Was oft confined to barracks,
All leave and passes cancelled.

This was my National Service,
It taught me to obey.
At the time it was a penance,
It was the British way.

Perhaps it made us what we are,
My fellow sprogs and me.
Did we in our small way help stop
The start of World War Three?

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drill-corporal

A ‘SHOUT’ of Drill Corporals

GLOSSARY of Military Terms and Jargon

National Service:   National Service was peacetime conscription. All able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 30 were called up. They initially served for 18 months. But in 1950, during the Korean War (1950-53), this was increased to two years.  From 1949 until 1963 more than 2 million men were called up to the British Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force.

Square-bashing:  Marching drills and other military exercises practised on a parade ground.  At the outset of their 2-year service, all N.S. recruits were required to go through an 8 week course.

Housewife’:  The Housewife holdall/pouch contained all that a soldier would require to carry out any repairs to his clothing when necessary. Inside it would contain a thimble, two balls of grey darning wool (for socks), 50 yards of linen thread wound around card, needles, brass dish buttons (for Battledress) and plastic buttons for shirts.

POM – Potential Officer Material:  National Service recruits who had attained sufficient GCE level passes in leaving school examinations were all considered as POMs and placed in separate units from other recruits.

Sprog:  Military slang for new recruits or trainees.

Jankers:  In the British Armed Services, jankers is the term used for the official punishment or restriction of privileges for a minor breach of discipline.

Bren gun:  Light machine gun made by Britain in the 1930s and used in various roles until 1992.

Corporal:  A non-commissioned officer in the armed forces. This rank was typically placed in charge of the drill training of new recruits.

Number-stamped:  New recruits were all given a service number which was stamped on their individual possessions, including their ‘housewife’ and their own set of cutlery.

Military Assault Course:  Used in military training to increase fitness, to demonstrate techniques that can be used for crossing very rough terrain, and to increase teamwork and self-confidence.  Often undertaken whilst thunderflashes are being let off in close proximity, and incorporating obstacles representing the most likely difficult terrain that a soldier might come across.

[ With acknowledgement for the assistance given by Des – Sarum5254 ]

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Words From The Grave

A poem with alternate lines having the same rhyme . . . 
as –  A – B – C – B – D – B – E- -B . . .  etc.

RIP

WORDS FROM THE GRAVE

 

Tread softly as you pass my grave

Do not disturb these tombstones 

If you should hear

My sighs and moans

Fret not and do not tarry

It will be just my aching bones

Clumsy now and out of practice

Having heard those ringing tones

Fumbling in my bloody shroud

To answer that damned ringing phone

Yet once again to take a call

From that old seadog, Davy Jones,

Who, speaking from his seabed Locker

Invites me to a Game Of Thrones

 

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Misdemeaners

An Acrostic Poem is one in which the first letter of each line spells out a complete word.  The poem’s title is often given as this, usually single, word.

crime


A short example would be . . . 

C ommitted a crime
R elied on his knife  
I  nterred doing time
M essed up a life
E verlasting paradigm

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MISDENEANOURS

 An Acrostic Verse

 

aybe I can be forgiven,

I n my innocence I was misled.

S uffering then from youthful hubris,

D efeated by my life, I bled.

E very new experience seemed

M y very strength to sap.

E ach and every test I faced

A waited me with some mishap.

N ow at last I shall be brave,

U ndo the spell which youth has cast.

O vercome my earlier errors,

R esist with vigour all my terrors,

S wap my lifestyle now forever.

 

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CRICKET

Cricket-Heathcoat-Tiverton

© ‘ The Cricket Match’ … Pen & Wash – WHB – March 2017

 

CRICKET

Roll up, Roll up
And buy your ticket
Rejoice and thrill
At the game of CRICKET

Bowlers bowl
Fielders field
Batsmen bat
Never yield

Keepers keep
And catchers catch
All this happens
In a cricket match

Strikers strike
And hitters hit
Sloggers slog
Lickety-split

Floaters float
Beamers beam
Chuckers chuck
While seamers seam

Umpires umpire
Scorers score
Strikers strike
Can’t ask for more

Spinners spin
Sledgers sledge
Captains captain
At the cutting edge

Drivers drive
And blockers block
Bouncers bounce
Eye on the clock

Grafters graft
And Hackers hack
Hookers hook
Better stand back

Openers open
Swingers swing
Sweepers sweep
‘Cos that’s their thing

Oft played upon
A sticky wicket
Best sport of all
The game of CRICKET


 

As in all sports, cricket has over its long history built up a long list of specialist vocabulary, or jargon.  I have attempted to incorporate some of this specialist language in my verses.

My pen and wash painting is of a scene at the Heathcoat Cricket Club in Mid-Devon.
The game of cricket has been played on this ground since the late 19th Century. 

The ground itself is one of the few to be found actually within the grounds of a National Trust property – that of Knightshayes Court , in the village of Bolham, near Tiverton.

 


 

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Gordon, Fanny, Nora and Jiminy

expletives1

Gordon, Fanny, Nora and Jiminy

(A light-hearted tale involving idiomatic language of a questionable kind)

Four one-time friends met up one day,
Their language was extreme;
Given to bombast, bluster, blather,
Just invective it would seem.

Expletives of the milder kind
Soon cut the air like glass,
From’ Fiddlesticks’ and ‘Jeepers Creepers’
To ‘What the Dickens, You silly ass?’

“Well, I must say, sweet Fanny Adams”,
Gordon Bennett said,
“Cor Blimey, you look cute just now,
Why don’t the two of us get wed?”

“Bloody Nora”, she replied,
“You can’t be serious.
Our dearest friend just next to you
She will be furious .”

“Don’t you ‘Bloody Nora’ me”,
Gordon Bennett replied,
“I’ll have your goddam guts for garters.”
Then Bloody Nora upped and cried,

“Oh, Streuth”, she loudly uttered then,
“Crikey and Gadzooks!
I thought ‘twas me you fancied most,
What about my famed good looks?”

But up spoke Jiminy Cricket then
The mildest of the four
Offended that he’d not heard right
“But it’s me, I thought, that you adore.”

“Crikey, you all get on my wick”,
Gordon began to moan,
“I don’t wish any of you ill,
But do cut out the whining tone.”

Before you could say “My giddy aunt”,
“Bob’s your Uncle”, said Fanny,
“Stone the crows you bunch of twits,
Your oafish language is uncanny.”

“You speak in riddles and in slang,
Codswallop is your tongue;
Holy Mackerel and Hell’s Bells,
You all are very highly strung.”

And so this odd exchange went on
In voices loud and shrill.
They hardly stopped to take a breath
‘Twas dubious language overkill.

But then, at last they quietened down,
Ran out of steam I suppose.
Their parting shots were more than rude,
But those I daren’t to you disclose.

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Brian Patten – Mary’s Lamb

(Poem No.44 of my favourite short poems)

Brian Patten made his name in the 1960s as one of the Liverpool Poets, alongside Adrian Henri and Roger McGough.  He has written over fifty poetry books for both Adults and children.   Patten’s style is generally lyrical and his subjects are primarily love and relationships, but I have taken this, slight, but amusing poem, from one of his earliest collections of poems for children ‘Thawing Frozen Frogs’.

Marys Lamb

MARY HAD A BIT OF LAMB

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.

She went into the butcher’s,
Came out with some lamb chops.
I would never follow Mary
Into any kind of shops!

 

Brian Patten (From: ’Thawing Frozen Frogs’ – Puffin Books, 1992; Illustration by David Mostyn)

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Revelations

Roland’s response, originally Posted on June 11th, 2017, to that day’s ‘Daily Prompt’ on the ‘Daily Post website’ at:   ‘REVELATIONS’

 Revelations

I’m reluctant to reveal
The way that I feel
It’s not a big deal
Less said, soonest heal.

NO …

Revelations are not for me,
I’m a secretive person, you see.

And I of course know
That you reap what you sow.

So for now I’m a sceptic,
More than a little dyspeptic.

It may be divisive to say so,
But I just don’t like hubris or ego.

You can say that I’m bitter
‘Cos I’m not a transmitter.

Not allowing myself to be smart
I bury my sins in my heart.

That’s the best place for litter,
Not on Facebook or Twitter!

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DEATH Visits The Pound Shop

death-at-the-poundshop

DEATH VISITS THE POUND SHOP

 

I heard it in the Pound Shop,
A cheapish place to be.
At first I wasn’t listening,
It seemed like Greek to me.

On her mobile phone,
Talking to who knows who.
Oblivious to all else
When in the checkout queue.

I’ll give you the milder version,
Don’t wish to spoil your day.
“ ‘Snot goin to’ appen” she shouted,
“Tell ‘im to eff off out of the way.”

Then raising her voice in crescendo,
Turning the air quite blue,
“It reely ‘urts” she said,
“’Urry up ‘cos I want the loo.”

Ignored by her fellow shoppers
This lasted quite a while
And no one tried to stem the flow
Of rhetoric and bile.

Yes, several brows were furrowed,
But no one else said a word.
‘Twas as though it hadn’t happened,
Nothing untoward had occurred.

Until a gaunt and aged chap
Facing her directly,
Said, “It’s H-urts, not ‘urts, you know,
Please do speak correctly.”

“And H-urry, H-appen, not just ‘appen”,
He then went on to say,
“H-ell’s bells and H-old your H-orses too,
Just get it right I pray.”

The woman was stunned for just a moment,
I thought she hadn’t heard.
She looked with disdain on him,
And said, “Don’t be H-absurd!”

And then that old and dark-caped chap
Taking a deep breath,
Wielding a scythe and timer said,
“Lady, you are approaching Death.”

“‘Ow rude”,  she shouted sullenly
And headed for the door,
What cheek to tell me ‘ow to speak
”I ain’t stayin ‘ere no more”.

With this the miffed and coarse-grained lady
Swiftly bagged her phone
Left the shop with deadly speed,
 “I’m effing off back ‘ome”.

CODA . . .

 What happened to the aspirate
Has it become redundant?
Careless speech is everywhere
And coarseness now abundant.

 

A Pretty Ditty

PrettyDitty

A  PRETTY DITTY


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Yes, dear, of course,
You’re the source
Of my discourse

And I really do fear
That if you were not near
Then I wouldn’t be here

But you said I can’t write
So to prove you weren’t right
I really just might

Have a go at a poem
‘Cos I”m no protozoan
Much more Leonard Cohen

So I say to you, darling,
I won’t be alarming

Instead I’ll be charming

I’ll write you a ditty
Both witty and gritty
Decidedly pithy.

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So, what is a ditty?
… Tell the committee
It’s got to be pretty!

Not any old dirge,
Or nonsensical splurge
Would most likely emerge.

And no sort of verse,
However terse
Or completely perverse
Could possibly be worse.

… SO, HERE GOES …

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It’s a pity
When a ditty
Isn’t witty

It’s a shame
When a dame
Gets the blame

It’s absurd
When a bird
Can’t be heard

And it’s sad
When a lad
Turns out bad

When a boy
Full of joy
Becomes coy

Tell me why
You don’t try
To comply

Why disguise
All those lies
I despise

I can tell
You’re not well
When you yell

It is said
Lose your head
You’ll be dead

Do not sigh
That is why
I will try

You will  find
When you’re kind
I won’t mind.

asterisk1a

So your disdain I pre-empt,

Can I now be exempt?

With this brave attempt

I’ll risk your contempt.

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