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Four miles over the thing

the road begins, complaisant, lovely

just what you'd expect. When I look I see nothing

and everything, kaleidolly, scopically, slotting

bangles and hairworn twisted tangles

into dust. I must be brave. I can only save

some, not many; perhaps, I think,

not any, as the rivers race down to the sea.

I could have been happy, you know, as these things go,

in Middleton Park, 28, just down the row,

happily coming home for tea

with my mad mother, my distanced father,

books in the library and a bit of cricket

on bumpy greens with a snarling yeomanry.

When I hit my ball through your window, darling,

did you hold it in a lewd lascivious way, thinking

Omigod I can carry on from this. When I had to piss

in the trenches (the War), booting aside the bodies,

I never thought of that, I thought of kidney pies

and roast pork and crackling. My mouth positively

watering with the thought of everything but you.

It's true you stood beside me on the hustings,

leatherlunged, God Bless You, in the khaki election

and I was so happy. Alive, like, after the war.

I'm so awfully sorry I had to murder you, doll,

but you were becoming such a pain and you wouldn't listen

so with a wink and a nod the lads did you in

and I attached myself to Churchill, the coming man,

and with my red-rimmed eyes and hoarse croaky voice

he believed every thing I told him. This radar, I said,

is a waste of time, and don't send boats to Dunkirk.

Bombing Germany is total nonsense, Winnie you berk,

and tell the bloody Yanks to back off, stay home.

I managed to extend the war by two or three years.

Later, when I was running my high-class nightclub

between several bombed-out buildings down in Soho

the girls would come screaming for champagne, naturally,

and so we'd give them shaken Algerian fizz. In this way

we set the taste for the next three generations.

Later still, when I was elevated to the House of Lords,

I voted against everything, we always did on principle,

and had a charming pied a terre in nearby Pimlico,

where, rising from bed among languorous naked bodies

I'd complain, Can't you bitches cook an English Breakfast?

Laughter. I'd knot my tie, slope down to the Allingham Café

for bangers and mash, bacon, toast and railway tea.

And this is how I ruled Britain for the next twenty years.

Bring back hanging! I became peculiar and more dangerous

and was incarcerated off in the wilds of Walthamstow

not far from the High Street pub called the "Victoria"

where I'd appear on gala nights in tutu and lace stockings

because I knew the manager and they couldn't fence me in.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Brendan Bracken? Good Lord, no -- BB was a pragmatical, go-ahead semi-scoundrel often believed to be the model for one of the characters in Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited" (I presume you've seen the excellent TV series now out on DVD?) whose name in the book I can't remember. He was the one who wanted to marry Sebastian's sister and was prepared to convert to Catholicism to do so. Waugh satirised him as one of the thrusting New Men who knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. His attitude towards conversion was typical, a means to a desired end: Look, you can't expect me to believe this nonsense, just tell me where do I sign?


The character I had in mind was David Low's Colonel Blimp

Edited by dedalus

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Brendan, this is wonderful narrative poem. Interesting character and point of view. Your poems abound with power of the idea, message and sense. This poem is long as most of yours, but not boring to read and to look from another perspective at some sequence from the past. I like the compactness of the expressions.


Well done, Bren!



The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia



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