ARGUMENTS YARD

Some viewers  may remember that I published some verses a few days ag0 in a blog entitled  ‘Mona Lisa Revisited’ .  The photograph I used, taken by me some time ago (as are the other photographs om this page) in Church Street, Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast, showed prominently the entrance to one of the town’s well-known ginnels, or Yards, called ‘ARGUMENTS YARD’.

This led me to ponder over the possible derivation of this ancient name for the short dark passageway leading directly down to the north bank of the harbour and the mouth of the River Esk.  The following verses are the result of my deliberations . . .

All this is conjecture;
You don’t need a lecture

But, in doggerel verse,
Which could hardly be worse,

I’ll tell you a tale
Which will make you turn pale.

#   #   #

I tried very hard
To find ‘Arguments Yard’.

At last, when I’d found it,
Suspicion compounded,

I knew it was true;
It was no Avenue.

But a hotbed of squabble,
Of trouble and babble.

#   #   #

For once it befell
In this yard there did dwell

Large families three,
Who could never agree.

The ginnel they lived in,
Dwelt side-by-side in,

Was almost a tunnel
A regular funnel.

Lived so close together
They’d bicker and blether.

Their life was uphill
Without any goodwill.

#   #   #

So as this story goes
These neighbours were foes.

And they started to fight
Over which one was right.

They argued from dawn
From the day they were born,

And when evening had come
They continued the scrum.

All mired with scandals,
Both hoodlums and vandals.

Figures of shame
Who denied any blame.

They argued the toss
And got very cross;

Yelled over the fence;
The noise was intense.

They disturbed passers by
With the oaths they let fly.

Disagreed with each other,
With sister and brother.

Shouted and cursed –
The children were worst.

Each day they’d bicker,
Whilst knocking back liquor.

Complained, moaned and grumbled,
Botched, fudged and bungled.

Bemoaned their existence,
Claimed their subsistence.

Refused to comply,
Or for jobs to apply.

In short it was hell
In that yard to dwell.

And everyone near
Existed in fear.

#   #   #

Move on to the present;
Now, not so unpleasant.

It appears that now
All has sobered somehow.

Yes, there’s nothing more strange
Than how times do change.

I’m assured that now
Things are much more highbrow.

Yes, they’re now avant-garde
Down in Arguments Yard.

In fact, the real derivation of the Yard’s name is much more prosaic.  It is now known to have been named after the Argument, or Argment, family, a well-established Whitby family who lived in this  yard for many years.  The family has been traced back hundreds of years, when they fled to Whitby to escape religious persecution.  Argument is actually an Anglicisation of the Flemish name Argomont.  They were Huguenots, sixteenth century Protestants, who fled Catholic France to avoid persecution and settled in Whitby.

At one time there were two yards of the same name, from this family name Argument.  The yard pictured – off Church Street – is one of the best known, loved and photographed in the town.  These days, more than 80 such named yards still exist in Whitby.  Their origins lie in the town’s mediaeval past.

Arguments Yard seems to have remained  much as it always has been, still intriguing, full of old-world charm, and much more tranquil than is suggested by its name.

MONA LISA REVISITED

MONA  LISA  RECRUDESCENT

When I met her pleading stare
I nearly had a seizure.
A revenant confronted me,
Labelled ‘Mona Lisa’;

I saw her on a street in town,
That enigmatic beauty.
Reduced to begging for a crumb,
That captivating cutie.

A painting from another time
With pallid face and frown;
A legend from another age,
On a street in Whitby Town.

So sad to see her brought to this,
Esteem and beauty stolen,
Bereft of stature, fame, renown.
How are the mighty fallen!

The two photographs were taken by Roland in Yorkshire in October 2016

Manoeuvres In The Snow

Preternatural Manoeuvres In The Snow

Now what is this manoeuvre someone tried out in my drive?

Trying out a galliard, or perhaps more apt a jive?

They say to travel hopefully is better than to arrive;

They’ll be lucky though at this rate to emerge from it alive!

Skulls – A Halloween Meditation

A West Country Skull . . Photo: WHB2021

What better encapsulates
Life’s end
Dust to bone
In resolution
IlAnticipated
Never remembered
Indescribable experience
Expressed in an image

In memoriam
Deferring to Absent Guests
I give you
The Skull beneath the skin
The Quick extolling The Dead
A cadaverous resurrection
Memento More
Become Death’s Head
Where Is Thy Sting?
Heads You Lose
Tails? – I win
Bone Dry
Let Us. Pray.
All Bone – No Meat
Jolly Roger – Old Codger
Jammy Dodger
Brolly Bodger
Death’s Sting
Is corpsing
And, pared to the Bone,
Becomes Life’s Detritus
Leftover leftovers
Smile Of The Devil
Halloween’s halo
All Done and Dusted
Life’s slipstream
Dracula The Goth
Moonshine pale
Reborn as Life’s Dust
What Remains
Only the Death Mask
Wool Skull
To numb skull
Skullduggery again
Rebirthing as
Cranium geranium
Bonehead!

WRITER’S BLOCK

‘Surreality’ . . . WHB – 1959

I Needed a Prompt
Ideas Swamped
Inspiration Zonked

So on These Thoughts I Chomped

Writer’s Block? … Then … Why Not? …

… Picture a scene?
Not Dull or Obscene
But From Pope or Racine
From U2 or Queen

… Go back in time?
Make the Bell Chime
No Need for Rhyme
Grime, Slime or Mime

… Recap your History?
No Need for Sophistry
Give it Your Chemistry
Make it a Mystery

… Use your memory?
But Very Cleverly
Create a Summary
A Sensory Treasury

… Use an old picture?
With no Striking Stricture
Or Pure Holy Scripture
Just Make it a Mixture

… Look through those photos?
Your Secrets Expose
In that Indiscreet Pose
Please Put it in Prose

… Because many a photo
Does Set off the Word-flow
A Picture of Jethro
Heathrow or Chicago

… Try Mythology – So many tales?
With all that Entails
So when Memory Fails
They Breathe  Wind in your Sails

 … May I suggest such as these?
The Trials of Hercules
Perils of Pericles

Or the Wit of Diogenes

… Start with an image?
A Game of Cribbage
Begin with  a Scrimmage
Then Rape and Pillage

… Just put pen to paper?
Why not a Caper
In a Skyscraper
Don’t Leave it till Later

… Compose an allegory?
In Hell or Purgatory
Dormitory or Laboratory
Seminary or Conservatory 

… Invade the thesaurus?
With a Rousing Chorus
From the Stegosaurus
But do Play it Cautious

… Go to a boot sale?
There Without Fail
All Life is in Detail
An Observer’s Fairytale

… Steal an idea?
Make it Quite Clear
Something will Appear
 Perhaps Verbal Diarrhoea

… Revert to your childhood?
When Lost in the Wood
Uttering that Falsehood
Not Doing Something you Should

… Play to your strength?
Give it some Length
Strive to the …nth
Degree -Don’t Stop at the Tenth

… Play with a word?
Inane or Absurd
A Ludicrous Cowherd
Preposterous Bird

… Places you’ve been?
Aberdeen, the Cuisine
Avoid the Obscene
And Say what you Mean

… Try a spoonerism on your block?
Blighters’ Rock
Or Writer’s Block
Working Lock or Lurking Wok

… Try Love? – it’s a Must
Frank or Unjust
That True Tale of Trust
Lays of Lovers in Lust

… But, to make it tell?
To Ring everyone’s Bell
And Ring Loud its Knell
Do Hyperbole Quell

… And what about death?
No Shibboleth
From that Very First Breath
Write Another Macbeth

#     #     #

Finally, your Loins do Gird
Go Tell it to the Babbling Birds

That This is Not in Fact Absurd
I AM JUST SO LOST FOR WORDS!!!

IF I HAD MY WISH

I can find no trace of the poem / ditty printed below.   I am not the author, and I am unable to find out who is / was.   Many years ago, when I was probably around the age of 6 or 7  (i.e. in the 1940s – yes, that’s right, during WWII ),  I learnt this poem by heart and delivered it to an audience at a Yorkshire chapel concert – presumably to demonstrate  my skills in memorised recitation.  Well  …  it certainly wasn’t to showcase a budding poet!   Although I don’t recall being sensitive at the time about the cannibalistic sentiments expressed,  I do now see the poem as somewhat ‘non-PC’ and quite unsuitable for directing a child to commit such verses to heart and then expound them in public.  

. . .   and Yes,  I have never forgotten these verses, the dramatic emphases within the poems structure, or the subtle cadence of its rhythms (!!!).   So . . .  make of it what you will, but  I would certainly be interested if anyone can throw light on its origins and/or its creator!  . . .

. . .  I remember being instructed to “pause before delivering the last line … and then say it quickly and loudly – with emphasis!”  . . .  What artistry !!! 

If I had my wish
I would be a small fish
And swim where nobody could catch me.
I never would look
At a worm on a hook,
Or some naughty boy then might snatch me.

I’d frolic and play
With the fishes all day,
And not go to school at nine-thirty.
I’d not give a bean
If my neck wasn’t clean,
Or if BOTH my ears should get dirty.

And when I had died,
I should like to be fried,
With the bones taken out of my tummy,
And served, if you please,
With some lovely green peas,
… and then eaten up by my mummy!

WANTED – A Good Woman

I photographed this poster prominently displayed in the forrard window of a motor cruiser moored at the mouth of a river on the east coast of Kent, England, in 2009.   For those who are unable to decipher the wording on the poster, I quote it here . . .

WANTED
GOOD
WOMAN
Must Be Able to Clean

Cook, Sew, Dig Worms
and Clean Fish
Must Have Boat 
and Motor
ALSO SEND PICTURE OF

BOAT AND MOTOR

The, presumably tongue-in-cheek, audacity prompted me to write the verses below ...

Wanted!  A Good Woman

Wanted! A pliant good woman
A sturdy strapping lass;
Content to be a willing wife –
One of the servile class.

Someone to meet my every need,
Allow me my own space;
Clean my house, cook. sew and dig
And do it with good grace.

My priorities must be upheld;
I need no self-willed martyr
Who’ll bicker and demand a fee
Each time I tweak her garter.

A bit of brass, willing to share,
That would not go amiss;
I’d give you pocket money too
And from time to time a kiss
.

A woman’s lot is never done
I know that’s what they say,
But after all is said and done
It’ll be worth it for the pay.

You’ll get a home with bed and board,
With a kind, considerate master.
What else in life could a lady ask
When all else now has passed her?

And so to sum up my request,
I need a loving spouse
,
A soul-mate made to serve my needs,
And good about the house.

Someone to moderate my charms,
To make me less unfeeling …

… I don’t know why but no one yet
Has found my job appealing.

Love Is . . .

Photograph . . . Surrey 2016 . . .  WHB.

MY INITIAL DIAGNOSIS

WAS CIRRHOSIS OR FIBROSIS,

BUT MY GNOSIS BEING HYPNOSIS,

THEN TO REACH APOTHEOSIS

WE NEED MUTUAL SYMBIOSIS.

You may recognise that the opening line of my verse above was also a line in a popular song of 1960,  ‘Goodness Gracious Me’, sung as a duet by Sophia Lauren and Peter Sellers.