• Ben Hardyment

The Rime of the Ancient Marrier

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

Here is some verse I wrote to rib my best friend Adam at his wedding. As he is a decade or more older than his lovely bride, it felt fitting to cast him as a desperate batchelor, racing time’s “Winged Chariot” to the altar!

The Rime of the Ancient Marrier

In our fine lande of Olde Albion, many moones ago, Graceful Queene Elizabethe dide a great honour bestow, Upon her stoutest Knighte, brave Lorde Chris Nowell, And Lady Brenda, his fine wife, both caught in love’s spell.

“Go forthe unto Africa, and plunder those dark lands, Maintain our military might with those mechanical hands! To Nigeria on a ship you are both to be bounde,” She pointed to the tummy on Brenda, which was round.

“Take care of that heir, as the journey is long,” Lord Nowell stroked his beard and said “I hope it’s a son Who’s stronger, braver and tougher than me, If he’s a lily-livered woofter, I’ll throw myself in the sea.”

So barely had dwindled the docking ship’s horn, That in Africa, baby Adam H Nowell was born. “This fine boy is colossal” his proud father declared, Dreaming that one day his enemies would run scared.

They drew back the fly-net nette across his olde cotte, Chubby Adam, peered up, nose all blocked up with snotte, Father said “Why’s he sucking on that filthy old rag? That’s not a lord of the union jack flag!”

Aged eight, making pancakes and still snuffling the cloth, His father no longer could hold back his wrath. “Oh why’s he not tough like strong Scott and brave Craig, He walks like a dandy, his gender is vague!

My eldest is supposed to be fearless and gallant, Of manly pursuits this boy shows no talent,” So with that his Lord briskly sheathed his fine sword And glugged down a draft of fine meade from a gourde.

He then leaned across, pressed his lips to small ears:  “Stride forth my fyne son but wipe off those hot tears. Hard schooling in England will soak up your fears, But be patient, to make thee a knight will take years.”

Banished to Windlesham, in the deep Sussex Downs, Where dormitories echoed with faint weeping sounds. He clung to his pillow, all a-shiver at night, Thank God he had “blanky” to stave off the frights!

This wimpy demeanour led to weeks with no friends, Till one day beside him, sat down London boy, Ben. “You homesick? What for? This place is a riot!” From thence they could not keep this pair of knaves quiet.

Fashioned Go-Karts in woodwork, down the back track they’d race, With the girls they’d play ‘Drac in the maze’ or Kiss-chase! “Back in Black” in the Green Room was how long days were spent Or the minstrel band Boney M played in their tent.

At ping pong his backhand had a fiendish top-spin, Without headbands AND wristbands no match could begin. At tennis the courts were festooned with smashed racquets, Over time all these outbursts had cost Dad a packet.

It was clear from his tantrums he missed his dear mother, And all these attempts at being cool were a cover, Evermore he found solace in the scoffing of food, So oft to have seconds and puddings he queued.

With swimming, at butterfly his manner was deft At the end in the pool not much water was left. Prop forward at rugby, his studs stamped on those brats, In time his friends fondly nicknamed him “Fats”.

Concentrating in class just got harder and harder, His cravings for fodder led to raiding the larder. He was easily caught by the seething school’s head, When boxes of tuck were found under his bed.

One summer he went on a trip to old Paris, He was worried saying no to strange food would embarrass. His cunning plan failed, whilst he scribbled some doodles, His satchel was unpacked and found full of Pot Noodles!

On the eve of a ski trip, with Ben stayed up too late In his bedroom at Bexley with laughter they quaked. Adam’s father burst in, his fuse set to blow “Go to sleep now, or you’ll have eyes like piss-holes in the snow!”

His next school was Eastbourne, quite the ‘maker of men’, Selected to be far from his errant friend Ben. It was tough, when ’twas “wedgie time” you did not want to get chosen So Adam wore stout lengths of the firmest Lederhosen.

Those bullies sang songs about the nature of his gender So learned the art of Judo, from his mother Lady Brenda, Yet while tearing down the sports field in depths of the winter, He got hit sideways with a tackle and his knees got badly splintered.

To this day, poor Adam, every sport that he touches, Invariably ends up with him hobbling on crutches, He dedicated himself instead to fashion and fine art, And he planned to use these passions to help win the maidens’ hearts.

But caking his face with Goth make-up as a tactic, Saw results that were horribly anticlimactic. His hair, like a scarecrow’s, was frightening for sure, A pitiful effort to be Robert Smith from The Cure.

A foundation in art, to Ravensbourne bounde, By this stage his clothes were extremely unsound. If his father had seen his late eighties apparel, He’d have rolled him off Beachy Head in an oak barrel!

One day he was summoned to account for his actions, His father, arms crossed with his face somewhat ashen. Said, “I’m all for your studies being led by your passion, But swear to me, son, that you won’t study fashion!”

What relief in the land — he chose Graphic Design The London College of Pryntynge, an academy fine, Where he did learne of the arte well of creating fine books, And his cutting-edge outfits drew no shortage of looks.

Graduation came fast, and prestigious work beckoned, Instead, Adult Bookes would enrich him, he reckoned. Paul Raymond’s in Soho, to ‘Men’s World’ no less, In the vain hope of attracting it’s main star, fair Jo Guest.

The staff were all girls, so he gossiped with a fever When a deadline was looming, he’d act quite the diva. But nobles do not spend their time positioning text, And he knew that deep down his dear Dad would be vexed.

Lord Nowell in his shed worked on ships made of matches, Ambitious Craig by his side, handing sticks in small batches, “My son’s dress sense and career was something I dreaded His only salvation now is he swiftly be wedded”.

But Adam had secured work at the Ministry of Sound, Where his wild shoe collection oft pounded the ground. When he wasn’t out raving at gay nightclubs like Heaven, Dungarees and white gloves air-stabbing till seven.

What was striking was how he danced on unaided, While the rest of his peers needed help or they faded, E’s are Good, E’s are Good, said that song that was funny, Not to Adam, who just two-stepped like the Duracell Bunny.

Let’s please not forget the phase of Goa Trance, “Bagpuss meets Cat in the Hat”, through the fields he did prance. A job at lad pages Loaded put an end to this fancy, Poor Fats, no more wibbling through the night like a nancy.

Lad culture took hold — blame that legend Jim Parry, Who mentored his coolness to degrees that were scary, And history was made as the gonzo life took its hold, I doubt Hunter S Thompson would have been quite so bold…

But how long could he keep running round like a nutter, Waking up on strange floors, or with his face in the gutter. Five years is the answer, and it ravaged his body, But at least he no longer went out dressed like Noddy!

He knew ’twas his destiny to find the right wife She was not wont to appear with this endless night-life. And mirrors he’d regard more with frowns of dismay, At his beard and his hair slowly bleaching with grey!

So he bought a fine steede that he named “Cannondale” Who’d he’d endlessly gallop out on the wild trails, But the craters and hedges sent him crashed to the ground All those thumps to the head made his brain more unsound.

Camping here, camping there, pitching tents everywhere, He went mad for the canvas life and the fresh air, Quaffing cider from flagons, frying chops in a skillet, Drowning in more gore-tex than you’d find in a Millets.

You could call all this roaming a crisis of mid life Butte the whole world could see twas the lack of a wife, And Adam made sure he was endlessly busy, Yet right under his nose was this graceful lass Lizzie!

They’d shared the same workplace for four years and a half, And oftentimes at him did heartily laugh, But what chance of attraction between them was thwarted At that stage his hair was like Hitler’s, side-parted.

No-one was surprised that a maiden in her prime, Was repulsed by his dictator-hair flattened by slime. But she had to abide it, as when he was befuddled, Hung-over he’d slope to her desk for a cuddle.

These beer-breathed embraces stopped his wont to be cranky, They had to — he’d long lost his crumbled old blanky. But the thing that impressed, and ’twas a spark that thrilled her, Was she saw what a good dad he was to Matilda!

Indeed now a father, a miraculous blessing, Which more than made up for the constant bad dressing. When word reached his father, the alarum he sounded, This act of such selflessness left him dumbfounded.

He said “I may not yet get to see my eldest son married, But each one of my sons’ kids in arms I have carried, What more could a man wish for in a life on this Globe? Apart from one’s son in a normal wardrobe.”

Adam always saw Lizzie as out of his league, As how could she fancy a face so wracked with fatigue, But his cuddling tactics worked, and led them to assume, That discretion was better and they should ‘get a room’.

So they did, there was to be no more ardour repression! And with courage as Dutch as his riding obsession, Had a dayte in olde Clapham, much addled by booze, And together that night they left no time to snooze…

He’d found his true princess, and to this day’s still staggered, That young Lizzie was drawn to a has-been this haggard, She could clearly see through to the soul deep within, And she had to, the outside’s decrepit and grim!

Of course Adam’s no fool, he had long lost his youth, He could tell by the yellow stains coating each tooth, He’d have to propose or he’d lose her for certain, And alone he might face the grim reaper’s last curtain.

But how could he ensure that she’d have to say yes? His body and face could yet deny him success. So he took her to Gozo to share a new fangled invention, Called “diving”, the danger would distract her attention.

They would wear skin-tight suits and breathe under the sea, She would surely succumb with this new sorcery! His ambitious plan — and the mind really boggles - Was to propose in a wetsuit, with full snorkel and goggles.

Flippers on, ring in hand… but he bungled the deal, Had a big bust up instead that took hours to heal. But finally after days of desperate pleading, Lizzie finally agreed to have this fine wedding!

Adam, Fats, Billy, Son, Dad, you’re one lucky man, So let’s all now rise up with glasses in hands. To toast you and Lizzie, and then bring on the tunes, Say after me now — “To the bride and groom!”

#reading #writing #lessons

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