Peregrine Blake: ‘The Last of His Club’

The Last of His Club
(Apologies to Henry Kendall)

He slouches and raises a gin to his jaw,
And hides in the wing of his chair;
For he cannot look up to the club-room guffaw,
Or think of the noisiness there—
Of the dross and the noisiness there.

The nimble ones lope up the stairs to the bar,
Awaiting his usual quips;
But he sits in his chair and looks from afar
Where the wit barely touches his lips—
With a mot juste, a joke under lips.

Ampulla take hold now! Crack open the wine,
From the cork to the punt let it drain,
And the kind-hearted members signed chit after chit,
And made him a clubman again—
A clubman and jester again.

For his eyes have been full with a sobering thought;
But he dreams of his stunts of yore,
And of bores that he fought, and White’s that he sought;
O those are the prizes no more—
Within sight are the prizes no more.

It is well that the claret which decants en masse,
Goes glugging and glugging down-stroke;
For a memory comes out from the clink of a glass,
And he starts at a colourful joke—
At the sound of a colourful joke.

And he sees ’cross the gaps in the scattering din,
The Committeemen, Mao-like and prim,
And the members who voted to let women in,
They watch, like a scorner, at him—
Like a killjoy and scorner at him.

Will he go in his sleep after copious wines,
Like a Duke, to the rest of his class,
Where the unmarked doorway at Heaven’s gate shines,
And gleams like a mess-polished brass—
Like a marvellous mess-polished brass?

Peregrine Blake

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