I am a goat-herd- no judge of high art, and have endured mild rollicking for calling Alice’s poetry “dreadful”, “Lament For Tenbrooks” is my poem, dreadful, then so be it.
To pick up where “Curmudgeon Summer” left off, in Alice’s wake, I expected Adelaide and Benny home, as they oft invited themselves for Sunday dinner. The two never left to wander without their wagon, and precious plaid steamer trunk. I knew they were hiding, could smell smoke of their campfire that night. Monday, I read by the hole the old rogues had been digging in the sheep paddock.
Midday they appeared, sidling around the house to wash under my hose. Adelaide spoke first, innocent face looking up. “We were in town for market day, that lardy banker tossed us out for washing watercress we dug up, in the sink in his bank loo”. ..and pushed our wagon off the sidewalk.” “When he hared off in a posh car, this great, heavy bag fell out the back, at Benny’s feet.
“It may hold enough for a yellow house, we were afraid to look in, and get done for stealing, or for keeping, so we reckoned burying it, we’d not get done for finding , like treasure”. Indeed, it was embossed with the stamp of Tenbrooks Smythe The Third’s family bank. Blue canvas, with a heavy zipper, I hefted the bag, it crinkled.
“Why did you two bolt? I asked Benny. “We saw that big, black car, and thought it was the Heddlu come for us”. Adelaide and Benny feared nothing, only “The Heddlu”, the Welsh police, and all other figures of authority. “Feh, I scolded them, that was Alice, kneeling in the wet grass, I opened the money bag…
Inside, neatly packed, was Tenbrooks the bank manger’s dinner. Sardine sandwiches, slightly worse for wear, three squashed fairy cakes, an ex sausage roll, two dead cheese scrolls, cracker dust, and the Cadbury Fruit and Nut bar Tenbrooks had eaten every day of his life, albeit now melted into the sardine wodge. There was a paperback novel, with a somewhat lurid cover, and Tenbrook’s liver pills.
Solemnly, we buried the packet of banker’s dinner, tidied the hole, and went back home to a big feed of “Eggy Toast”and Tenbrook’s story, a most unpleasant character from Godfrey’s and my shared childhood.
LAMENT FOR TENBROOKS- from Beatrice-
When Tenbrooks Smythe The Third was a lad, oh, a fine horse he did ride. Alone he was though, for he scorned our shaggy ponies, and was first in our village, a house with flush toilet inside.
A toilet, a toilet, all shiny and new, it must have been lonely for you. I will not forget all the beets that you threw, at Godfrey, the malice, the pain. The posh leather boots your Ma bought you in Spain, teacher gave you highest marks only due to your name.
A future decided by wealth before you were two, being the third, must have been lonely for you.
A toilet, a toilet, your own indoor loo, vivid in my memory nasty things you’d say and do, freeze a beet, fill it with sharp rocks, kick Godfrey, who was much smaller than you in the buttocks. And neath the school desk where he sat, place yellow liquid or a fresh cow-pat.
A toilet, a toilet, in a big room of your own, how often, Tenbrooks, did you sit there all alone?.
Was his posh house painted yellow?, asked Adelaide. Will the Heddlu still come get us? “Pity the sandwiches, added Benny, “I quite fancy sardines”. Sufficiently dreadful, I decided.
In times like these, blessedly rare, I thought, what would Godfrey do?, besides laugh a really long time, and a lot. He sought a higher wisdom, in all he’d come to know- this one he taught me, from a chap he called “The Digger”long ago.
THE 54th Wisdom of Godfrey States- “If you wish what you dream for to grow, the patient farmer taught me- “Godfrey, dig a proper hole”. “The scent of rain, fresh turned soil and sun will warm the soul” “Cultivate your dreams wisely- and dig a proper hole”.