Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Rhymes for misanthropes

I wrote this while feeling unusually cranky:


The Chav
by Brit


Holding fast my grande coffee,
Past the Bookie, past the Offie,
Down the alley by the Tesco
(a most convenient al fresco
toilet for homecoming drunks,
A quiet place for blowing chunks
when caught short of a water closet,
And just the right spot to deposit,
Atop the teens’ cigarette stubs,
Pint glasses borrowed from the pubs),

'Twas here that I was forced to have
a tango with a Bristol chav:
Our paths were heading for collision,
We both were wracked by indecision,
We shuffled this way, feinted that,
But underneath his Burberry hat
no smile met mine to make it jokey,
This impromptu hokey-cokey,
No human touch, no recognition,
Just a joyless tunnel vision.

But it was even worse than that,
For as he muscled by, he spat,
And even muttered ‘fkng twt’.

A beady eye, a reptile’s glare,
A beastly eye, a thrush’s stare,
More coiled steel than life in there,
A raptor’s, rodent’s, robot’s face.
So tell me, is it commonplace,
In his anti-world, this anti-grace?
We share a common space, a town,
But seem to have no common ground,
Except the brutal geographic.
I turned to watch him dodge the traffic,
Weaving in and out the queue,
Hunched body language, ‘yeah f'kyou’.

So what unholy matrimony of nature/nuture spawned this boney
Monster with his gangling gait, his cultivated primate’s hate?
His greasy crew-cut, mockney drawl,
Is this man’s future:
Nasty, brutish, and tall?

Or should we blame his father?
But if his father, why not his father?
Or a thousand fathers farther
back? The chain must start somewhere.
It starts there.

After all,
Nobody took this thing
and forced him to wear all the bling,
Or made him start taxi rank fights,
Or made him smoke the Marlborough Lights,
Or made him scrawl ‘Go home Paki’,
Or made him wear the Kappa trackie
at all hours (not just in the gym).
So I don’t blame his father,
I blame him.




More poems here

9 comments:

Peter Burnet said...

Excellent. Was he wearing a baseball cap?

wonkotsane said...

Chavtastic.

Brit said...

A Burberry one, natch.

Toque said...

Wonderful. This is the stuff of a future poet laureate.

I had a bit of a run in with these types yesterday as it happens. There were a group of trackie-wearing oiks, hair greased down to their foreheads, assembled outside Greg's the Bakers, eating their pasties and dropping the wrappers on the floor despite standing less than a meter from a bin.

I said "Excuse me, you dropped this", as I motioned to the paper bag with my feet.

There was lots of sniggering and nasty comments whispered under the breath from his mates but I stood my ground and the embarrassed chav apologised and with a flourish picked up the offending litter and deposited it in the bin.

They're not all bad, just stupid.

Hey Skipper said...

Brit:

I've never been one for poetry, but you are changing my mind. That you could both put me in the place while adhering to poetry's discipline is nothing short of amazing.

Completely OT, but this poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes is one of the few that left a lasting impression on my far too linear mind:

The Deacon's Masterpiece; or The Wonderful "One-Hoss Shay"


A Logical Story

Have you heard of the wonderful one-horse shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then, of a sudden, it--ah but stay,
I'll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits,
Frightening people out of their wits,
Have you ever heard of that, I say?

Seventeen hundred and fifty-five,
Georgius Secundus was then alive,
Snuffy old drone from the German hive.
That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down
And Braddock's army was done so brown,
Left without a scalp to its crown.
It was on the terrible Earthquake-day
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.

Now in building of chaises, I tell you what,
There is always somewhere a weakest spot, -
In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace,--lurking still,
Find it somewhere you must and will,--
Above or below, or within or without,--
And that's the reason, beyond a doubt,
That a chaise breaks down, but doesn't wear out.

But the Deacon swore (as Deacons do,
With an "I dew vum," or an "I tell yeou,")
He would build one shay to beat the taown
'n' the keounty 'n' all the kentry raoun';
It should be so built that it couldn' break daown,
"Fur," said the Deacon, "It's mighty plain
Thut the weakes' place mus' Stan' the strain;
'n' the way t' fix it, uz I maintain,
Is only jest
T' make that place uz strong uz the rest."

So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
Where he could find the strongest oak,
That couldn't be split nor bent nor broke,
That was for spokes and floor and sills;
He sent for lancewood to make the thins;
The crossbars were ash, from the straightest trees.
The panels of white-wood, that cuts like cheese,
But lasts like iron for things like these;
The hubs of logs from the "Settler's ellum,"--

Last of its timber,--they couldn't sell 'em,
Never an axe had seen their chips,
And the wedges flew from between their lips,
Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips;
Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,
Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,
Steel of the finest, bright and blue;
Thoroughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;
Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
Found in the pit when the tanner died.
That was the way he "put her through."
"There!" said the Deacon, "naow she'll dew!"

Do! I tell you, I rather guess
She was a wonder, and nothing less!
Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,
Deacon and deaconess dropped away,
Children and grandchildren--where were they?
But there stood the stout old one-hoss shay
As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day

EIGHTEEN HUNDRED; -it came and found
The Deacon's masterpiece strong and sound.
Eighteen hundred increased by ten;--
"Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then.
Eighteen hundred and twenty came;--
Running as usual; much the same.
Thirty and forty at last arrive,
And then come fifty, and FIFTY-FIVE.

Little of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both feeling and looking queer.
In fact, there's nothing that keeps its youth,
So far as I know but a tree and truth.
(This is a moral that runs at large;
Take it.--You're welcome.--No extra charge.)

FIRST of NOVEMBER,--the Earthquake-day--
There are traces of age in the one-hoss shay,
A general flavor of mild decay,
But nothing local, as one may say.
There couldn't be,--for the Deacon's art
Had made it so like in every part
That there wasn't a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thins,
And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floors
And the whipple-tree neither less nor more,
And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
And spring and axle and hub encore.
And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be worn out!

First of November, 'Fifty-five!
This morning the parson takes a drive.
Now, small boys, get out of the way!
Here comes the wonderful one-hoss shay,
Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
"Huddup!" said the parson.--Off went they.
The parson was working his Sunday's text,--
Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed
At what the--Moses--was coming next.

All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet'n'-house on the hill.
First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill,--
And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
At half past nine by the meet'n'-house clock--
Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!

What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you're not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once,
All at once, and nothing first,
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

End of the wonderful one-boss shay.
Logic is logic. That's all I say.

Duck said...

If you do win the Nobel prize, I called it first! But picking on the poor underpriviledged class won't help your standing, and holding him responsible for his own actions! Really now, that won't impress the Norwegians.

Brit said...

It's ok, when I submit it for the Nobel I'll just change the last line to "I blame Margaret Thatcher."

(Or to be on the safe side, "Margaret Thatcher and George W Bush".)

Brit said...

Toque:

They're not all bad, just stupid

Yes, I suppose I know that really. But rather than destroy someone who was rude to me with my karate powers, I thought it politic to run home and write a load of rhyming couplets instead. That'll show him!

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