Prompted by Esther Newton’s Writing Challenge where the subject is Fear my mind slips back two decades and then a lot longer.
Sometime ago, when the Lawyer was about six and had latched onto the word ‘loathsome’ (that is a red herring), he was caught on camera by my brother in law reciting a poem my father had taught him. The Lawyer called it ‘The Fear’. I don’t remember dad calling it ‘The Fear’ but I do remember the poem from my youth, one of several dad would recite to us.
It was a dark and stormy night
And the roads were dry and clean
And I was walking backwards
To the place where I had been
When suddenly I saw a noise
Stood on my face and looked
There it was!
It came again
I did the splits
Had 15 fits
And left myself with me.
Did dad write it? If not where did he find it? I had a gander at the internet and it threw no light on it. The Archaeologist may know but for now it’s origins remain a mystery.
So that had me thinking about other poems Dad recited to us. One started ‘Sir Francis Drake was a warrior bold, the scourge of the Spanish Main’. Once again I return to the Net to see if I could find it.
And poof, there it was, on this website, The Usmeum of Ordiments – the whole poem as I remembered Dad reciting it. In seconds I closed my eyes and was transported back to a field gate somewhere in the Surrey or Kent countryside. While the rain teemed down, Mum and Dad stood by the back of the car – an early version of a hatchback, the Hillman Huskey – with a tarpaulin over their heads, and made tea on a primus stove, while the Archaeologist and I knelt on the back seat and faced them as we waited for the promised picnic. To keep us amused – in the days before car radios – dad recited this poem. I loved it for its irreverent language, the reference to ‘pards’ as some sort of fighting force and the rhyming of lucky and ducky – a Queen saying ‘ducky’ seemed to this young child the height of subversion.
It turns out the poem was written by the blogger’s uncle sometime in the late 30s or early 40s which makes sense as dad knew it from his school days when he learnt it by heart (he finished school in 1944). The author, Murray Lane died in 1942 at a terribly young age; did he and dad know each other, or maybe it was through school or some other contact.
Who knows but at least in his family and in me and my brother the memory of that poem lives on. Here it is, as a tribute both to Murray Lane and my dad
Sir Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake was a warrior bold –
The scourge of the Spanish Main;
He singed King Phillip’s curly beard,
And the Spanish king raised “Cain.”
“Say, dis palooka’s getting fresh,”
Said Phil to his bodyguards,
“We’ll have to give dat guy de works,
Get out and get him, pards.”
To Plymouth Hoe they sailed that day,
To haul Drake o’er the coals,
But did old Frankie care two hoots?
No – he was playing bowls!
Frank straightened out his old school tie,
“The bounders, the cads” he said,
“Just wait till I’ve finished my game of bowls –
Then I’ll give them a dose of lead.”
When stumps were drawn at close of play,
And Frank had holed in three,
He saddled his noble steed Black Bess,
And then he put to sea.
Frank took his shooter from his side,
And gave one mighty blow –
The peas flew out like cannon-balls,
The Spaniards sank below.
When good Sir Frank returned that night,
The blighter landed lucky –
Queen Liz sent out her Royal Command –
“Come up and see me, ducky.”
To London Town old Frankie went,
Deck’d in his posh new suit;
And there Queen Liz gave him a “Mark”
“The Order of the Boot.”