A brief hiatus in slowly bankrupting myself in overpriced gift shops allows me a moment to update this is yogic, and to extend seasonal greetings to anyone reading.
It’s the time for drunken exploits at Christmas parties. Working mainly from home as a freelance, I have no office or official ‘co-workers’, but did organise Bah Humbug! – a rather fun all-day event at The Betsey Trotwood pub in Farringdon last Saturday (with Ventriloquist). Over twenty poets and spoken word artists entertained the assembled crowds in various rooms from midday til end of play. My personal highlight was the incredible vocal talent of Hannah Silva, who had come all the way from Devon just for the event. Check out the video below. And, of course, the lovely Tim Wells dressed as Santa. It was lovely to see loads of London’s poetry scenesters celebrating what’s been an outstanding year for us. And we made £202.06 for MacMillan Cancer Support.
Then onto Roddy Lumsden’s special event at The Miller in London Bridge on Tuesday night. Roddy commissioned 36 poets of various hues to write a piece based – however loosely – on one of the gifts mentioned in the well-known seasonal song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Again, great to catch up with the likes of Tamsin Kendrick, Inua Ellams, Annie Brechin, Clare Pollard, Meryl Pugh, Valeria Melchioretto, Simon Barraclough, Ahren Warner and Tim Wells. And Roddy too, of course – one of poetry’s most generous and wise heads. I picked ‘Ten lords a-leaping’ and here’s my effort – unusually for me, a rhyming poem with a moral!
Ten Lords A-Leaping
Ten Lords I have picked from history,
Each one a different kind of vice,
And briefly I will paint their lechery
In verse and do my best to be concise.
Some have slept their way to shame
In darkened back-alleys and cheap hotels;
And some acquired their grubby fame
By embezzlement and ended up in cells.
I tell this now as Christmas beckons,
The time of cheer and good will to all,
To remind us it takes but a few seconds
For the rich and ermine-clad to fall.
Our first unlucky Lord is Browne of Madingley
Who made his fortune and his name in oil;
But under oath our man was just as slippery
When the facts of the case began to uncoil.
His clandestine love was one Chevalier, J;
With gifts of company cash he did him spoil.
He told the court they met whilst jogging one day,
But J to his escort agency was loyal.
Lord Anthony Lambton’s next and a similar route.
In the pages of The News of the World
We heard of the sex and the ganga to boot,
And under duress the story unfurled.
Tony kept his hobbies behind closed doors
But we know from the holiday snaps
That Tony liked gardening and visiting whores.
The lesson? Watch out for unscrupulous paps.
I won’t pause long to describe the crimes
Of Byron that lyrical, loveable knave;
But only to say he was ahead of the times
With his catalogue of felonies grave.
As Colonial Governor of New York
Lord Cornbury was a powerful guy;
But the pamphleteers began to talk
And everything went awry.
It may not have helped that he took all those bungs
And fiddled the books to line his own purse;
But the nail in the coffin that filled gossips’ lungs
Was his fondness for dressing as a female nurse.
The next famous Lord coined a popular phrase:
“Why not just leave it alone?”
If only he’d followed his own clichés
His cover may never have been blown.
To be fair to Lord Melbourne he wasn’t to blame
When Byron had it off with his missus,
Or when some mischievous blackmail claim
Alleged he was screwing someone else’s.
Lord Levy was born to modest means
In the London Borough of Hackney.
He’s wealthy now and made all his beans
Selling music to kids with acne.
He’s one of Blair’s best mates, they go way back
(He’s known as Labour’s cashier);
But it was him who took most of the flak
When those loans were found to be queer.
Some are victims of charges most spurious
Like Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.
When asked was he Gay, Bi or just Curious
He answered “well, all of them, truly”.
But in ‘54 this didn’t look good
And the coppers were sent to arrest him;
In court he protested “I’m misunderstood”
But the judge deemed that molesting.
8. & 9.
I see my allotted time is almost up
So I’ll skip the next two on the rack:
Freddie Windsor that cokehead royal fop
And cheating meeja mogul Conrad Black.
Which leaves the final Lordly chancer,
A right deceitful squinting dick;
In life a veritable dirty dancer,
A man both slimy and slick.
Beside the lies, deceit and fraud
Of all these noble gentry ten,
Rise high the crimes of this one Lord.
His biggest sin? He took the writer’s pen.
I pray dear friends, dear writers all,
My words find your ears not deaf;
Take heed of Lords both great and small:
From Browne through Byron to Archer, Jeff.