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Rhyme at Rotary Club
by Len Elliott on April 24th 1952

Rushden Revived or

The Editor's Experiment

One typical day, with nothing to do,
The Editor sucked at his pencil blue
And mused on a fate that had held him down
To the living death of a one-eyed town.
In his liverish mood there was nothing right,
For nothing had happened overnight,
And nothing was likely to happen by day,
And the next half-column seemed far away.
He scowled at the diary's empty sheet
And said to himself as, he crossed his feet:
"What a life this is! What a waste of time
To look for a scoop or a decent crime.

It's years since we had a big sensation,
Or a little one that would stand inflation.
How can you write a front-page splash
When the only event is the usual trash -
A Little White Ribboners' birthday tea:
The Council decides to wait and see:
A dance is held at the Windmill Hall -
For five bob extra you call it a ball:
A Rotary talk on keeping mice -
A talk already reported twice:

A letter boosting some dim appeal:
A dear little do by the Inner Wheel:
A fairy play by some little brats:
A prize awarded to Geoff Knight's cats:
The Russians down the course again:
A well-stretched pike pulled from the Nene:
What will they do at the old cross roads?:
A fashion parade of Wills's modes:
Whom will the blind electors choose:
How much a pair is lost on shoes?:
And what did George M. really see
When he looked for Productivity?"

The Editor threw his pen at the wall
And gloomily watched the pieces fall;
Then with a half demented laugh
He pressed the bell to call the staff.
"Any copy?" he boomed as the hounds came in.
They shook their heads and tried to grin.
"And why not?" he barked. "It's pretty fine
When nobody makes a blooming line."
"I think," faltered one, "the trouble's due
To everyone falling with the 'flu."
"Then there's your story," roared the Chief:
"Your blindness passes all belief.
Go, get your facts, and quickly - see?
No, on second thoughts you can leave it to me."
Leaving the minions goggle-eyed,
He reached for his hat and dashed outside.

"Now what's the quickest move?" mused he.
"Why yes, a chemist - G.E.V."
Then, as he pondered came a thought
So wicked that his conscience caught
A twinge - in him a strange sensation,
Soon swamped by ill-concealed elation.
"But would he do it?" came the doubt  -
"A man in Rotary devout?
President too - ah, that's a line:
This little plan should work out fine."
Soon in the grim dispensary
The plot was plonked on G.E.V.
"It stinks," he answered in a style bucolic.
"No," urged the Ed.; "that's only the carbolic."

"Besides," he added, "nothing stands, I fear,
To show the value of your presidential year."
And, having played his master card,
He tactfully drew back a yard.
But he had used the ace with skill;
The President aspired to top the bill.
"Enough," he said. "This town is pretty chronic,
And I agree with you it needs a tonic.
Just reach those frowsty bottles off the shelf:
I'll show the blighters Service Above Self."

They placed a pancheon on the shuddering floor,
And from each bottle let the contents pour:
Adding all kinds of powder and of pill,
Cosmetics, ointments, syrup of the squill;
Then madly stirred the sticky stuff apace
Till Vic declared it fit for any case.
"Leave it to me," he said. "They'll love this mess,
And bless old Bevan for his N.H.S.
Something must happen from a brew so heady -
Just wait awhile and have your pencil ready."

Wishing, of course, to take his own small share,
The Ed. soon worked the 'flu up to a scare,
Writing so glibly that his minions fell,
And he himself was feeling far from well
Until revived by the anticipated news
That Vic was coping with tremendous queues.
'Tis still a secret in the wondering town
That Vic held each prescription upside-down
And, reading nothing that would give a clue,
Decided that his special dope would do.

To old and young, to blind and halt and lame,
The mixture he doled out was just the same;
And those who hadn't 'flu, but had thrombosis,
Shared equally Vic's evil-smelling doses.
To those who fear these tidings should portend
That many victims reached an early end
We joyfully relate a different story
Containing nothing sinister or gory.
One dose of liquid so uniquely bad
Relieved a man of anything he had;
For he would spring to life with feverish haste
Rather than risk another fearful taste.

But now a curious turn our tale must take,
For though the physic cleared up every ache
It had a strange effect upon the town,
And more or less turned matters upside-down.
A spirit new, at once surprising and mysterious,
Pursued its course with influence imperious,
And happenings that once had seemed remote
Made many a headline or a juicy note,
Until the Editor began to think
He'd very soon be running out of ink.
Each day produced its deed sensational,
Or something almost educational,

The uplift starting at a club in High Street South -
Member expelled for putting water in his mouth.
Then came the strange affair at Spencer Park,
Where Humphrey Ellis, prowling after dark,
Deduced that all his furry friends had flown,
Because there was no smell of rag or bone.
Taking a sample from the flowing stream,
He found it of a purity supreme,
And neatly labelled it, when daylight came,
"Exhibit A for the Clean Food Campaign."

Up Newton Road the Chairman downed his hoof
Because a councillor had "raised the roof,"
But it transpired the roof had raised itself
When Humphrey knocked a bottle off the shelf.
The Council members put their heads together,
For wood was needed to keep out the weather,
And one whose voice had timbre rare
Was sawn to pieces then and there.
The Council staff shed sad tears when they heard,
And even the Surveyor's tea was stirred.
So, too, was Alex, and it wasn't long before he
Exclaimed in rapture, "This will make a story."
It certainly made one for the Press.
Though, of course, not carried to excess.

The Chamber of Trade sat down to dine,
And everything was going fine
Till  the  President  rose and said to Stan,
"You've  done  a jolly good job, old man,
And as some reward, after due enquiry,
We've bought you a copy of Boswell's "Diary.
" But a trick had been played, and the diary he got
Might well have contained the Gunpowder Plot.
It belonged to a florist, whose entries terse
Were bad to begin with, and soon got worse -
'Bless the Bride' at eight; sort peaches at nine;
Don't forget to drop Mavis a line.
Book for the pictures tomorrow night;
'No Orchids' - I call that a bit of all right.
Order roses for Mrs. G.
(Special note: she's fond of tea)."

And so it went on, till Stanley blushed
And out of the hall Masonic rushed,
To throw himself on a Slumberland bed,
With carpets and fireirons overhead,
And dream of Boswell eating peaches,
And Johnson making windy speeches.

Next morning, in the well-known store,
He still slept on without a snore.
The staff, not usually so stupid,
Mistock him for a marble Cupid:
They sold him to the first enquirer
And packed him off to a place in Eire.

The mystery of Stanley's fate
Would naturally agitate
His comrades of the Rotary Club,
Who searched for him in every pub
And, getting nowhere near the trail,
Dissolved their sorrows in good ale.
Rotarian Groome, with legal mind,
In shrewd ideas was not behind.

He looked in a window labelled "Wills,"
But all he could see was frocks and frills;
And a pair of "briefs" without a case
Brought a touch of colour to his face.
As an advocate he sowed his seeds,
But nothing came in the shape of deeds,
And at last he moaned in accents faint,
"This would try the temper of a Saint."

This was very true,  for Rotarian Roy
Was far from registering joy,
And loud and lurid were his ravings
When he couldn't find Stan in the National Savings,
Said he, "This job is one for Bobbies;
Already I've got too many hobbies.
The whole thing baggies one and baulks -
You need a pair of eyes like Hawkes."

Admitting that this might be so,
Friend Sidney said he'd have a go;
And in order to get the technique right
He chartered a plane and was soon in flight.
Round the world he flew, looking keenly down,
And swooping on many a likely town,
Though forgetting to look at the African jungle -
Which might have turned out a very bad bungle.

But nothing very much occurred
Save a tete-a-tete with some other bird.
Then, flying back o'er the Herring Pond,
He saw the Irish coast beyond,
And thoughts of Cork set up a thirst,
So after a record-breaking burst
He came to earth with a graceful drop,
Determined to have a final pop.

Soon picking up with a graceful colleen,
He tried to sell her a rebuilt machine;
Then, as they loitered on a bridge,
He turned her thoughts to the latest frig.
Accepting defeat like an Englishman
He gave a description of poor old Stan
The colleen's cheeks flushed to a rosy hue:
"Begorrah, bedad; come along wid me, do!"

And into a park she took Sidney with haste,
While a lark sang "Mavourneen" in excellent taste.
They pulled un at  last  at  a very fine fount,
And there, neatly poised on the tall marble mount,
Perched our Stan, with his bow pointing straight as a rocket,
And the diary protruding from out of his pocket;
While the colleen explained how she'd visited daily
To place on the statue a sprig of shillelagh.

Need we tell how the rescue of Stanley was planned,
With one so resourceful as Sidney at hand?
Need we add that the prospects came suddenly clearer
When Sid rattled briskly round brother Valera?
Or that Stanley returned to his dear native land
And was welcomed in State by the Temperance Band?
Suffice it to say that in boudoir or hovel
He now read nothing worse than a Waverley novel.

The Press did quite well from this little affair,
For the special editions were read everywhere,
And Stanley himself saw no reason for gloom,
His wonderful mattresses having a boom.
The next ebullition, though smaller in scale,
Save the lovers of sport a peculiar tale.
It began when Guy Imison shut up his bank
And gave the old flivver a vigorous crank.

He thought, as he pulled down his cap's jaunty peak,
"I've a feeling that something will happen this week."
And as he came down on the shivering pedal
He had in his mind's eye a bright silver medal.
Though others had flourished with stroke and with drive,
The bank rate had never yet managed to thrive,
For Guy was so fierce in the use of his shaft
That  his ball always carried a strong over-draught;
And the Chelveston sheep shrank into their wool
When this he-man squared-up for a typical pull.

Leaping forth from his car on this sorrowful day,
Fold Guy saw a stranger a few yards away.
"Like a round?" he enquired in his pleasantest manner.
 "I'll play for a fiver or only a tanner."
"Are you hot?" asked the stranger, twiddling his gamp.
Said Guy, with a twinge, "I'm a National champ." -
"Provincial," he added under his collar.
(What a pity he didn't decide to holler!)

Then "Handicap?" he asked politely:
"Beer," said the stranger, adding tritely,
"And what is yours?" Guy thought a minute;
"Soda," he said, "with something in it."
They fixed things up round a friendly drink,
And somehow it made our hero blink
When the stranger raised the five to fifty
And coughed in a way that Guy thought shifty.

But he stretched his chest as they neared the tee,
And remembered the day he holed in three.
Then once again his spirits sank
As he heard the words, "I could rob a bank."
If he had only stopped to think,
'Twas but a tribute to the drink,
But as it was, he took alarm
And scarce could raise a faltering arm.

He missed his first clout, tried once more,
And this time hit the grassy floor;
Then with a gesture fierce and tough
He swept his ball into the rough;
And rougher still was his sad fate
When he had reached the green in eight,
For in his fever of suspense
He fell at each and every fence.

Blindly he groped his way along,
And everything he did was wrong;
Then when he coshed the caddy's pate,
The sheep jumped over a five barred gate,
He failed to note, as he mopped his pores,
That the stranger was doing under fours,
Or that all the club was now in tow
To watch the wizard strike each blow.

He only knew, as his brain spun round,
That fifty quid had gone to ground;
And his tortured mind went nearly blank
As he thought of robbers at the bank.
Then, with the courage of despair,
He raised his niblick in the air,
Advanced upon his startled foe,
Prepared to strike a mortal blow.

"You're nothing," he roared, "but a rotten pagan.
"I'm not," said the man; "I'm Walter Hagan.
Allow me to present my card -
It's just my joke: don't take it hard."
The members cheered the winner in,
And someone stood a round of gin,
While a still figure on the flawer
Was neatly marked, "Refer to drawer."

In the realm of art Rotarians
Were soon astir with novel plans,
But instead of wasting a lot of time
Producing a childish pantomime
They thought it would be the better way
To put on a highbrow sort of play.
One handed "Fit for Heroes" round,
But others thought this might rebound.

Master Abington said it would give him great pleasure
To take the lead in "Measure for Measure,"
But this idea fell quickly dead
When a leather man wanted to be the Head.
Then "Peter Pan," being so well known,
Was put forward, by Arthur Allebone.
They agreed, if Arthur would be the Pan,
But he said, "This is not for an older man.

My figure's neat, but you need one still neater.
Ask the Vicar - he knows all the dope about Peter."
"The Doctor's Dilemma" was mentioned by one,
But they told him he’d soon have old Jones on the run.
To cut out the quarrel and all impropriety
They decided at length on a night of variety,
And loud were the cheers when the curtain rose
On one of the Ritz's most promising shows.

Impresario Bernard had billed a sensation,
And proudly was wearing his largest carnation,
While the Editor, leaving misgivings behind,
For once had decided that he would be kind.
Some of the ladies had still got their hats on
When the elegant figure of Douglas Battson
Bounced forth from the wings like Teddy Knox
To take part in a version of "Box and Cox."

He'd plenty of cardboard and lots of glue,
With which he performed a trick or two
But then stood and gaped like a fielder at mid-on,
While the gallery murmured, "This sure puts the lid on."
The trouble that Douglas had failed to conceal
Arose when he saw partner Arthur kneel;
For Arthur was wearing some flimsy material
Which split in a place that was far from ethereal.

They rang down the curtain to save Arthur's face,
Then put on a turn more abundant in grace -
None other than Geoffrey, the junior Knight,
Who declared be could get out his top notes all right -
A boast that was rather too searchingly tested
In a caravan song that could well have been rested.
The jeers had scarcely simmered down
When Tom crept on in a Roman gown
And, shedding his cloak like a comic strip-teaser,
Announced that he'd come to bury Caesar.

The audience now had begun to dwindle,
Some openly calling the show a swindle,
So Tom switched to song, and with manly carriage
Announced there would not be a stylish marriage.
He finished it off with a tough of rubatol
And retired with the help of a flying tomato.
Geoff Morgan was the next arrival,
And to ensure a safe survival
Assumed the role of Harry Tate,
Exemplar of the motorist's fate.

The veteran Charles, with prospect dim,
Impersonated Edwards (Jim),
Convulsing all with his sly crack
That they should wake up at the back.
To give the show an ending slick
The Sanders Duo dropped a brick
By chirping like some little mouse

A song entitled "Bless This House."
And blessed the hearers nearly were, but
Do put a sock in it," cried Herbert;
And, thanks to him, that glamorous night
Was climaxed by a fierce free fight,
Steward Macpherson wore a smile
And summed the conflict up awhile.

There were more black eyes than broken necks,
And he knew there would be a boom in specs.
Our story nears its peaceful close,
But maybe in this room are those
Who wonder that a gentleman named Roe
Should all the time have been neglected so.

'Twas not by accident we left him till the last,
For we have sketched a revolution vast,
And knew there would be trouble in devising
An ending that was still more appetising.
We therefore lift the veil from Eric's head,
Revealing that this man of tales was led
To stifle back the tempting mauve-hued winner,
And never raise a blush at any dinner.

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