WAR AND BEETS- From Godfrey

Worzel here…yes, he was a dreamer, my vagabond, coming of age in the 1960’s, in a sheltered Welsh village. Godfrey’s school work was usually judged rubbish, the laugh of the teachers room, he expected to be paddled and sent home with a terse note for his Ma. “Mrs Wncomnco, your son is odd”.  This gem survived, in his sister Alice’s packet of writing, folded up in the wrapper from a cheese. From Godfrey at twelve…

I was terribly self concious, in my early teens, as I entered poetry. That summer Alice refused to journey with us, to visit with Ma’s family in Glasgow. “They eat herring daily, I will not wear a dress, their table is wobbly, I won’t be seen in that car with Godfrey”. Stomped for emphasis, did Alice. What of Ma?, “Righty O’ dear, it’s all okay…sister Alice stood in shock as the car roared away..

“Sit on your crate, shut up, no singing, do not breathe on my arm,” the extent of conversation Ma and I shared that day.

Uncle Hamish-  I barely knew the very old gent, in his chair before the fire sat, bent and cranky, hard of hearing was he, but uncle remembered me. He used an old ear trumpet, down which I blew- “Hello, I am Godfrey who dislikes beets, your nephew”. “He squinted- “Who the hell cut your hair with a knife and fork?” I yelled into the ear horn, “My sister Alice, she also painted me blue not long after I was born”.

Uncle Hamish napped, I lay on the carpet, Un hoovered for many a year, watching telly with no Alice to step on my face or interfere. Distant flitting figures, horses mired in mud, bodies in barbed wire of a long ago war. Bejasus, I swore, what a nightmare…indeed lad, replied uncle Hamish, indeed it was laddie, I was there.

My heart was still a fluther when called down to tea, beets and herring on the wobbly table, I did not eat, was not the beets that bothered me. I had learned a great deal from uncle Hamish, who was not as deaf as he pretended to be. All my aunts were a worry .. Ma told all,” when we get home, he has an appointment with Dr Uren, M.D”.

Doctor Uren M.D.- “Do not return Godfrey to school”, the headmaster wrote, until he sees Dr Uren and is given a signed note”. I was to stay home from class, and get stern lecture on my future, no more dreaming away the days, no impish sass.

I dreaded Dr Uren, looming over me, as trembling I hand him a sample of warm wee.Dr poked, he peered, made me take all but my drawers off, then cross my eyes and cough, show my tongue, when sure I could hear and see, Dr Uren took a ball peen hammer to my knee. I assured the doctor all my “tackle” worked, as the nurse Mary Mulgrew wrote it on a chart and smirked. Dr Uren had the longest nose hair I had ever seen, only doctor then in Batley, shooed the nurse out and asked, so what is troubling you so, Godfrey?

“I dislike beets, war, greed and bombs and bigotry, and am old enough now to comprehend the world around me. Soon I will be off to meet it, seeking wisdom and sowing random pathways for whirled peas through poetry. Yet I’m told it is too odd a vision, what do you think, Dr Uren?. “Granny Clatt is waiting,” came a shrill voice beyond the Dr’s room door. “Godfrey dislikes beets, guns, bombs, greed and inequality, needles in the arse, and all levels of authority, color him odd, I deem him fine, stalwart and healthy”..

Dr signed the note, I grabbed my kilt, hat coat and dignity, in the clinic waiting area as I fled by, was every lass in town who had ever caught my eye.  “Twmffat”, Betsy Oatley called me….

War and Beets-  Here is the essay that got him in such a “bovver”.

Oh makers and droppers of weapons and bombs, I ask, what would you do if such nasty things rained down on you? All who profit from missile and gun, ought be exiled to where there are none, and all wealth be of no use with nothing to spend it on. In place of weapons factory, plant beets as far as the eye can see, and if a people should disagree, set them chose sides in a hot, flat field where beets can be hurled.

Mother’s daughters and sons who march off to war will come home again only bruised and sore.”They ambushed us, the skies were red, the beets were buzzing past my head” “I rescued my buddies, pinned tharn in their cross hairs, but our beets were bigger and fresher than theirs”.

Beets hurled only in bunches of three, no flaming beets dropped on village or city, pickled beets must be drained if jarred, frozen slices only allowed if thawed. Imagine a vast plain, no poppies or crosses, no need for valor, no more tragic losses, inequality and anger will slowly cease, and no more cannons overhead on holidays, I implore, all weapons into tractors to cultivate beets, beets make great weapons for war.

Allivictus!  Allivictus!-Into the breach!, Eat a large bulb of garlic each, for when inevitable the beet battle looms, non violently take out your aponnant, at close range with the fumes.     My essay- From Godfrey.

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8 thoughts on “WAR AND BEETS- From Godfrey

  1. What a fine medico was Dr Uren M.D.He could certainly see quality. What a wonderful summary of Godfrey. “Godfrey dislikes beets, guns, bombs, greed and inequality, needles in the arse, and all levels of authority, color him odd, I deem him fine, stalwart and healthy”..
    And I do love “The Great Beet War”. It reminds me of something about Israel and a part of the Australian desert but I forget detail. I will tell you if I remember.

    • My dear, you are quick, and thank you. Homage to our small town Dr Uren, who feared women, made house calls all hours, and built himself a true “House of all Sorts” as a hobby, with turrets, a moat, stairs that led no where, down on the harbor mud flats. Saved me when my brother fed me cow fly spray.

  2. Me thinks you read the better parts of my mind- he was a true genius at pest-ness, and creative use of manure up to about age 10- then he turned a tad mean…but it all worked out.

  3. Godfrey’s essay is priceless. The next time I answer the telephone to one party or another asking about my views of either presidential candidate and the state of affairs in the country, I will agree to answer only if they’ll then listen to Godfrey’s essay. I agree with wfdec’s comment about the good doctor writing the perfect description of Godfrey. Too bad everybody couldn’t see the worthy lad and fine young man he was. I rather liked Hamish and his ear trumpet. My grandmother had one. I used to love talking — well yelling — to her.

    • My Uncle Tug, deaf from years of sitting next to the trombone in a “Big Band” had an ear trumpet, an old crank with an interesting funeral..I would love if Godfrey’s essay was heard across the States…you need Godfrey. Thanks Janet.

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