THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Nov 13) Betjeman – Business Girls


Sir John Betjeman

 From the geyser ventilators

Autumn winds are blowing down

On a thousand business women

Having baths in Camden Town.

Waste pipes chuckle into runnels,

Steam’s escaping here and there,

Morning trains through Camden cutting

Shake the Crescent and the Square.

Early nip of changeful autumn,

Dahlias glimpsed through garden doors,

At the back precarious bathrooms

Jutting out from upper floors;

And behind their frail partitions

Business women lie and soak,

Seeing through the draughty skylight

Flying clouds and railway smoke.

Rest you there, poor unbelov’d ones,

Lap your loneliness in heat.

All too soon the tiny breakfast,

Trolley-bus and windy street!


Place-Names of China
Alan Bennett

Bolding Vedas! Shanks New Nisa!

Trusty Lichfield swirls it down

To filter beds on Ruislip Marshes

For my lav in Kentish Town.

The Burlington! The Rochester!

Oh those names of childhood loos.

Nursie rattling the door-knob:

“Have you done your Number Twos?”

Lady typist – office party –

Golly! All that gassy beer!

Tripping home down Hendon Parkway

To her improved Windermere.

Chelsea buns and Lounge Bar pasties

All swilled down with Benskin’s Pale,

Purified and cleansed by charcoal,

Fill the taps in Colindale.

Here I sit, alone and sixty,

Bald and fat and full of sin,

Cold the seat and loud the cistern

As I read the Harpic tin.


                                          A Visit to Glyndebourne

Stanley J. Sharpless

 Let me get my evening suit out,

Is it fit for Glyndebourne stalls?

Ages since I saw an opera,

(Traviata, one recalls).

Two free tickets for your birthday,

Nice idea of Auntie Pat’s,

Must be careful not to let on

That we’d rather have seen Cats.

Don’t forget the opera glasses,

I must take my hearing aid,

Though the whole thing’s in Italian,

Quite beyond me, I’m afraid.

Still, the programme will explain it,

With an outline of the plot,

(Incidentally, is it silent –

That last ‘t’ in Turandot?)

Fortnum’s do a picnic basket

With some rather scrumptious food.

Salmon, caviar and champers

Help to put one in the mood

For the summer lawns of Glyndebourne,

Sort of Ascot in its way,

Standing for the good old values

In the punk world of today.

There’s a fast train from Victoria,

Saves a long drive – such a boon,

Though one does feel rather silly,

Dinner-jacketed at noon.

Does one clap after each aria?

Best to see what others do;

Hope it won’t go on too long, dear,

Last train back – 10.42.

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