We met via a cryptic crossword
Ensnared by a neat cryptic clue
I gave her a smile as a greeting
Followed up by a “How do you do?”
She was young, twenty-three-ish, and pretty,
Presentable, pert and petite.
She rang my Big Ben with a ding-dong
And my heart skipped a jubilant beat.
She was sitting there doing a crossword,
It looked like the one in ‘The Times’.
While I was just taking a breather,
Thinking up verses and rhymes.
Then ‘Wave cereal bowl’ she murmured,
As she looked, without seeing, at me.
Now this, I thought, I could work at.
I gave thanks to the powers that be.
An eight letter answer was needed,
So I set my old brain cells ticking
I knew if I thought hard I’d find it
The clue just needed unpicking.
For ‘cereal’ – think ‘grain’ or think ‘bran’,
And for ‘bowl’ then how about ‘dish’?
But to fit them together I thought,
Would be more than I ever could wish.
But it soon became clear to me
When looking again at the clue,
That what I was looking for now,
A word which meant ‘wave’, that would do.
A light then switched on in my mind
I knew I had twigged it at last
‘BRANDISH’ I yelled with great glee
Assuming she’d leap up and gasp.
But “Calm down!” she abruptly called out
“I ‘d just worked that out for myself.
I don’t need your help you spoilsport.
Go pickle your brains by yourself.”
Disgruntled, I stood up and left,
Yet another faux pas I had made.
One more chance for romance I had blown,
So it’s back to my verse I’m afraid.
‘CRYPTIC CLUE: Wave cereal bowl’; ANSWER: Bran-dish’
Why not? … Headache!
Later? … Maybe!
Tomorrow? … Unlikely!
When? … Sometime!
Soon? … Perhaps!
Here? … Somewhere!
Where? … Dunno!
Any ifs? … Plenty!
Affair? … Don’t you dare!
Separation? … Impractical!
Divorce? … Costly!
Forget it? … Better!
For now? … For ever!
As we were? … As we are!
OK? … OK!
Life ahead you See
Was never just about Me
For you and I will Be
Ever and always ‘We’
When I was young and foolish, she was winsome, sweet and cute,
I was given to firkytoodling, a pleasurable pursuit,
Practised by young lovers with a semblance of finesse,
Yet fraught with muffed advances and frustration I confess.
The way matters proceeded was with hesitations fed,
With never a suggestion of retiring to a bed.
No, circumspection ruled and held us all within its thrall,
For fear of finding that we didn’t have the wherewithal.
Not quite understanding as to where it all might lead,
And a minimal perception of what it meant to breed.
Plus a fear of breaking all those long instilled taboos,
Which governed all the protocol on cuddling, smooch and schmooze.
I tried to reason with myself, to tell myself to try,
Just let my wandering hands explore and not to be so shy
For she had let me get this far, an arm around her neck,
So surely now she’d let me have more than just a peck.
So I attempted in the dark, a first-time “Do I dare? “
A fumble here, a fiddle there, the lightest touch in hope elsewhere,
Investigating bra straps and those buttons on her blouse,
Fumbling fingers trying hard her passion to arouse.
Then fatally, I hesitated, faltered, flinched and dithered,
I’d lost my will, my heart stood still, all resolution withered.
I’d been turned on, fluffed chance now gone, and fate got in the way;
The moment passed, and soon I knew, today was not my day.
[ Firkytoodling: a Victorian term for canoodling, or being amorous. ]
[ # 82 of My Favourite Short Poems ]
‘Another Unfortunate Choice’
I think I am in love with A. E Housman,
Which puts me in a worse-than-usual-fix.
No woman ever stood a chance with Housman
And he’s been dead since 1936.
A tale of unrequited love – By Wendy Cope
Reproduced from ‘The Big Book of Little Poems’ (Pub: Andrew Deutsch Classics)
On Being Repetitious
I know you’re suspicious,
My thoughts are capricious
And highly fictitious
Yet hardly seditious.
Life is so delicious;
But, of course I’m ambitious,
The time is propitious.
The signs are auspicious,
And you know I’m judicious,
Not one to be officious,
Superstitious or vicious,
Not ever lubricious,
Nor in the least avaricious.
OK, I’ll be surreptitious,
So you can remain suppositious
… Although , I am REPETITIOUS.
[ Wednesday Replay # 1 ]
Previously published on Roland’s Ragbag on August 6th 2016 at:
‘Early 20th Century Autograph Books’
Autograph books, where they exist, are now used mainly for collecting the signatures ( or at least the scribbled ciphers) of the latest popular music or sports star.
Compare this scribble below by Wimbledon Champion, Andy Murray, in 2013, with, from my own autograph collection (of 2), this perfectly legible autograph of England and Yorkshire batsman, Len Hutton, obtained in the 1940s . . .
100 years ago Autographs Books were primarily more for the collecting and usually exchanging, of aphorisms, homilies, comments, pithy verses, simple drawings, personal messages, with friends and relatives.
These autograph books of the first half of the 20th Century, give a clear picture of the social mores and conventions of the time. Their contents can be clearly seen as a means of passing popular wisdom on to subsequent generations. Nowadays they may be thought of by some as schmaltzy, even maudlin, but they do present a picture of the tastes and sentiments of that time and help to remind us of a much simpler and less cynical age.
I REPRODUCE BELOW, In Slide show format) SOME OF THE SKETCHES FROM MY OWN FAMILY’S AUTOGRAPH BOOKS – THE MAJORITY OF THE ENTRIES ARE DATED 1929.
. . . AND HERE ARE THE TEXTS OF SOME OF THE MORE DISCERNING ENTRIES . . .
Beware sweet maid when men come to thee
And say they seek their soul’s affinity
When all they want, the base espousers,
Is someone to sew buttons on their trousers.
‘Just a few lines from a would-be poet’
It’s very hard to find a friend
When your heart is full of hope.
It’s harder still to find a towel
When your eyes are full of soap.
In ascending the hill of prosperity
May you never meet a Friend
It’s not the one that knows the most
That has the most to say.
Nor yet the one that has the most
That gives the most away.
Love is like a mutton chop
Sometimes cold – Sometimes hot
Whether cold or whether hot
It’s not a thing to be forgot.
‘Taint what we have,
But what we give,
‘Taint what we are,
But how we live,
‘Taint what we do,
But how we do it,
That makes life worth
Going through it.
Make new friends but keep the old,
One is silver, the other gold;
Cheeks may wrinkle, hair grow grey,
But friendship never knows decay.
When the golden sun is sinking,
When your time from care is free,
When of others you are thinking,
Will you sometimes think of me?
Written in faltering, scratchy handwriting …
This is a damned bad pen you’ve given me!
[ # 74 of My Favourite Short Poems ]
John Clare (1793 – 1864) was an English poet. Born in Northamptonshire, he was the son of a farm labourer, who became known for his celebrations of the English countryside and for regularly expressing sorrows at its disruption. His poetry underwent major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is now often seen as one of the important 19th-century poets. His biographer, Jonathan Bate, states that Clare was “the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self.” Many of his poems are filled with a joy he experienced in nature and the countryside. Sadly, however, for the last 25 years of his life Clare suffered from mental illness and was incarcerated in a mental institution. In this wistful soul-searching poem, described by some as “one of the greatest poems of sheer despair ever written”, Clare spills out his desolation and detachment from a life which he would dearly love to have lived . . .
‘I AM’ . . . by John Clare
I AM! yet what I am who cares, or knows?
My friends forsake me, like a memory lost.
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish, an oblivious host,
Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost. 5
And yet I am—I live—though I am toss’d.
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dream,
Where there is neither sense of life, nor joys,
But the huge shipwreck of my own esteem 10
And all that’s dear. Even those I loved the best
Are strange—nay, they are stranger than the rest.
I long for scenes where man has never trod—
For scenes where woman never smiled or wept—
There to abide with my Creator, God, 15
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie,
The grass below; above, the vaulted sky.
As When . . .
As when the waves rage
So does my turbulent life
Beat upon my shore
As when the sky weeps
So do my eyes shed their tears
For those friends now gone
As when the wind gusts
So does my discontent rage
For those without love