Wednesday, June 10, 2009

357. Briggsy (rewrite)

Hold hard on the plain, Dan Tremayne,
and don’t you worry. We’ll bring
the roaring guns up here in an instant,
the Royal galloping Horse Artillery.
Stay with me, old man, don’t drift away,
these bloody Boers can’t kill you!

Well, they did, and he died,
and that was no smile upon his lips
but a rictus of sheer agony, a gut shot.
So I went and married his widow
when they sent me back to London Town
and we lived in Ealing Broadway.

She was a blonde and sweet young pullet
quite fond of her port and lemon,
and we’d sit in the back of the Star and Garter
when they'd made me up to Sergeant.
I’d stayed on in the Army, it was a steady billet,
there was no real fear of being sent to India.

We rattled along easily enough
without any trouble from little kiddies,
I’d only need to put her over my knee
once or twice with the end of my belt
and dish out a few whacks, not vicious, like,
just to remind her what was what.

War seemed to be coming on in Ireland
but that was a local thing; the regiment,
in London barracks, would hardly be needed,
so we thought nothing of it. That summer
we went down to Kew and to Richmond
and had a few drinks along the river.

I was coming on to 40, getting old,
but the bouncy-bouncy was as good as ever
when the bloody Germans invaded Belgium.
Within days I found myself in France.
The marching was healthy till we got to Mons,
and there, quite suddenly, the killing started.

Smith-Dorrien, one of our few good generals,
bloodied the Jerries at Le Cateau
while Sir John (a cavalry bastard) fell into a funk
and marched us down the roads to Paris.
He had thoughts of evacuation back to England:
we were so tired and angry, I remember it still.

That frog general, Joffre, he shamed Sir John,
and although never mentioned, you can take that as true.
The orders came down, we reversed our retreat,
and then came the Marne and all that followed.
I can neither think nor talk about all that followed,
some few survived, best pretend it never happened.