BBWB 2: English George

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 2

English George

George Goldthorpe was a handy man
From Barton, Humberside
To Patagon & Pakistan
Has tour’d the Ocean tide

He has a girl in every port
& sev’ral in Ceylon
Where he must go to catch his boat
By morning he’ll be gone

‘Must you depart my heart’s own lad
My handsome Dionysis?’
‘I must! the world is churning mad
In China there’s a crisis

Whose Empress Dowager hath arm’d
Vast gangs of bandit Boxers
No Christians are left unharm’d
Like chicklets amidst foxes

The greatest Countries of this world
Conjoin in common interest
A flag of unity unfurl’d
From North, from East, from West

Austria, Britain, Germany
France, Russia & Japan
America & Italy,
We’ll do the best we can

With lingerkiss he left his love
(Until he meets the next one)
The orders come in from above
‘Men put your best effects on

& represent Britannia!
Look smart among all others!’
When boarding HMS Barfleur
George joins his band of brothers

The night was merry as the fleet
Embar’k from Trincomalee
Rum smuggl’d in a sailors’ suite
The fun was flowing free

‘I’ve got a song,’ George slowly rose
Majestic, like a Djinn,
Whoever wrote it no-one knows
& so I shall begin’

‘Fix him a drink,’ the barman wink’d,
She slumps, ‘make mine a double!’
The blaze-eyes of the firepit blink’d,
The room was full of trouble.

Three sailors from a foreign isle
Rode storms into that bar,
Not knowing that the Prince of Guile,
The Lord of the Morning Star,

Has sent a temptress succubus
& she has been my lover,
Nights long & raw & glorious
Nights one after another

Caught in the webbing of her scent
Slow lashes hypnotis’d them
Her tongue-tip tickl’d with intent
Thro’ lyrics which surpris’d them

She knew their nations & their names
Sung of their secret meetings,
Their lies, their shames, their cries of blames,
Their guises & their cheatings

She held them with a lightning eye
All they could do was listen,
The clock struck midnight, on the sly
The firepit starts its hissin’

‘Its off to Hell for you my boys!’
She heckl’d as the sailors
Heard caustic noise of torture toys
By awful, bawdy jailors!

With sulphur-flash they dissapear’d
Into the firepit embers,
& how each voiceless face appear’d
Nobody quite remembers.

In any port, in any age
Your fate might be my fable,
She lithe & lovely on the stage
& me sat at the table.

The klaxon blares, the rumdregs drain’d
The Navy goes to War
The Taku forts, intact, ingrain’d
Protect the Haihe shore

But Britons better battles bring
Oercoming the defences,
The roads are open to Beijing
Crawling with consequences

The Fists of Righteousness have fled
The Multination mission
At last Red Lantern Zhu is dead
The Empress begs concession

George Goldthorpe’s sailorwork was done
Long shifts of hungry violence,
Under an Oriental sun
He loves the Ocean silence

Next port of call was Tokyo
Silk fleshpot of Japan
Opium! thro’ a milky glow
He met an Arran man

They fell a-friends, soft smilings meet
A promise proffer’d quick
If George e’er moves to civvy street
He’d come & visit Brodick

Where work’s aplenty by the keep
Thro’ forestry fair teeming’
Now off he drifts off in lucid sleep
& interspatial dreaming

Of a quieter existence
On a rare & happy isle
Where at destiny’s insistence
He shall live the fond exile

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