|Quicklinks:||Poets||The Ascent of Man||Golf, Golf, Bloody Golf|
(With apologies to Horace)
Retired and having time to spare,
walking down Westmoreland Street,
on my way to cross the river
to call on a friend.
I was turning over in my head a few lines, totally absorbed,
when a man, I knew only slightly,
approached me from behind.
He put his hand on my shoulder, and said:
‘how’s she cuttin’?’
‘Fine,’ I said and walked on.
He kept up with me, his hand still on my shoulder.
Wanting to forestall him I asked:
‘is there something I can do for you.?’
‘Listen to me. I’m something of a poet myself.’
‘I’m glad to hear that,’ I said despite trying to shake him off.
I soon began to get hot under the collar,
and wished I could be rude or even frosty
to fix this fellow.
He kept yammering on, reciting verse,
and when I failed to respond he said:
‘I can see you are impatient to get rid of me.
Where are you going? I’ll just tag along.’
‘I’m going to see a friend’ I said, ‘on the other side of the river.’
‘I’m glad of the walk, so I’ll come with you.
We poets must stick together.’
My heart sank and I quickened my pace.
I crossed the bridge and looked wistfully at the river.
As I walked up the quays I said:
‘won’t somebody be expecting you?’
‘Nobody in the whole wide world,’ he said.
‘My family don’t talk to me, nor do any of my friends.’
‘A wonder.’ I thought to myself,
and then suddenly I remembered
what my mother had told me years ago.
On the Saturday after I was born
‘Biddy Behind the Hill’ called to the house
when she was in town for her groceries.
Having put a coin in my hand
She said to my mother:
‘This young man will not die of a heart attack,
nor of TB nor pneumonia or pleurisy,
nor any disease known to doctors.
Some day someone will talk him to death.
If he’s wise he will keep his distance from talkative people.’
As we approached the Four Courts ‘the poet’ said:
‘I’m due inside there at two o’clock;
I’m bringing my neighbour to court for nuisance.
Will you hang around and support me?
A person of your standing would count.’
‘I’m late as it is.’ I said, ‘I must go.’
‘Then I’ll stick with you and let the case drop.’
‘I don’t think that’s the right decision.’ I said.
We kept on up the quays.
‘Which faction do you belong to?’ he asked.
‘Which faction of what?’
‘To which gang of poets do you belong?’
‘I don’t belong to any gang.
Whoever mugs you it won’t be a gang of poets.’
Just then I saw my friend approaching.
I could see he read the situation perfectly.
I was impatient for him to say something to rescue me.
He kept smiling but uttered
no word of escape.
Making facial gestures I tugged at his sleeve.
I nodded and winked,
but he pretended to misunderstand.
Furious , I said:
‘Haven’t we business to transact.’
‘Yes but it can wait to another time.
This is Ash Wednesday,
and I don’t want to prevent anyone’s penance.’
‘I’m not religious,’ I said.
‘Well I am,’ he replied, ‘it’s a weakness I share with most of humanity.’
With that he disappeared into the crowd.
Just then, ‘the poet’ spotted his neighbour accused.
His blood boiled and he shouted across:
‘I’ll see you in court.’
He turned on his heel and left me,
and with that I was saved.
THE ASCENT OF MAN
He looked up to the window of my bedroom,
he took out the ladder from my shed,
he climbed up to the outside of my window,
and ended up beside me in my bed.
GOLF, GOLF, BLOODY GOLF
They all play golf.
All my friends play golf.
The whole world, it seems, plays golf.
I met a man at a funeral
who started to tell me,
shot by shot,
hole by hole,
a round he had played that morning.
At the third hole
I stopped him.
‘Do you honestly expect me to stand here,’
I said, ‘and listen to you telling me,
shot by shot,
hole, by hole,
a round of golf
you played this morning,
and this poor man
stone dead in his coffin,
his widow distraught,
and his family not knowing
which end of them is up?
At a party
a friend of mine
bored the wits out of my wife
explaining to her in detail
how after thirty years
of a perfect swing,
it had gone off;
like milk in hot weather.
He was back with the ‘pro’
to have his swing corrected.
Have they no imagination?
Have they no idea
how talking golf
bores the wits out of
How would they like it
if a stamp collector
cornered them in
a one way conversation
about how he tracked down
a penny black,
got it at the right price
and rescued it for posterity
by expertly steaming it off
a damaged envelope?
I have no objection whatever
to people playing golf,
so long as,
like skeletons in the cupboard,
they keep it to themselves.
If they must,
they can bore the wits out of each other.
Two thirds of the world is starving.
There are wars everywhere,
and what, it seems,
does everyone do?
Golfers don’t seem interested to discuss
whether there’s a God or not,
or whether evolution
really was the best idea ever.
All they want to do
is play golf.
Golf, golf, bloody golf.
Old Judd lied.
Everyone knew he lied
but they loved his stories,
so no one said:
‘I don’t believe you, Judd,’
but nobody knew where
truth and fantasy met,
not even Judd.