IS GAY SMARTER THAN STRAIGHT?

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Poet Edward Field, 89 years old, and the most entertaining guest in Our Deep Gossip.

Really stupid people, we say, cannot grasp any sort of complexity.

But then there’s another kind of smart, good, or educated person who errs by making things too complex.

Then we have the truly smart person who knows complexity, but also knows when not to be complex.

The three (crude) types mentioned above might be categorized as the one cared for by the system, the one of the system, and the rebel who breaks the system’s rules.

The system, in this case, is American poetry and the general puritan American culture surrounding it. We have just finished reading, on a beautiful afternoon, Our Deep Gossip, Conversations with Gay Writers on Poetry and Desire by Christopher Hennessy, foreward by Christopher Bram, and instead of finding the “deep,” we found the simplicity of the intelligent rebel.

The rebel is not beholden to a lot of systemic obligations. The rebel speaks what might be called a queer truth, true not because it is queer, but true because its desire is of that immediate kind not trapped by any system. The rebellion can be expressed in a number of very simple ways: I don’t want to get married, I don’t want to rhyme, I don’t want to be polite, I don’t want to conform, I don’t want to have children, I don’t want to do what others expect me to do, I don’t want to make sense, I don’t want to be complex if I can be simple, I don’t want to put off pleasure. And all of these things might be called queer. But what they really are is actually anything but queer; they are manifestations of simple common sense. And this expediency makes the queer what every queer secretly knows itself to be: smart.

Our Deep Gossip is uncannily smart—right from the beginning of Bram’s foreward:

I’ve never understood why more people don’t love poetry. The best poetry is short, succinct, highly quotable, and very portable. It can take five minutes to read a poem that you will ponder for the rest of your life. Poetry should be as popular as song lyrics or stand-up comedy. Nevertheless, I often hear otherwise well-read people say, without embarrassment, “I don’t read poetry. It’s too difficult—” or strange or obscure or elusive. They will slog through hundreds of pages of so-so prose about a computer geek in Sweden or a made-up medieval land populated with princes and dwarves but freeze like frightened deer when confronted by a simple sonnet.

I cannot think of a better defense of poetry. This needs to be said over and over again. This is the sort of simple truth that is so simple that it rarely gets said. And why? Because inevitably poets feel the need to defend difficulty. Or the Creative Writing Director needs to not offend his fiction students. The system will not allow the simple truth to be spoken in quite the way Bram has expressed it. But when has a system ever cared for simple truth?

Edward Field is the first poet interviewed by Hennessy, and “deep,” again, is not what we get— we get something more to the point, more truthful:

…the cant idea is that [poetry] is about language. That’s one of two pernicious ideas about poetry. The second is the stricture against sentimentality. That is so evil! Every feeling you have is, of course, sentimental.

Field, and the other seven interviewees, don’t give us any “deep gossip” about lovers and friends; they make simple observations that make you realize that being gay is not some great mystery with all kinds of deep secrets any more than being straight is. Since heterosexuality is more invested (just generally) with the system of breeding, one might assume the gay sensibility is closer to pursuing pleasure without this massive system’s strictures and obligations; but no, not really; this assumption (by straights) is just one more reason the gay sensibility tends to have more common sense: it knows it is not as secretive and complex as it is thought to be, and this contributes to clearer thinking. Look at Field’s brilliant but simple take on Ashbery:

I think John Ashbery is beyond criticism. His work is nothing I’m interested in, but he says things in the exact words, and it’s beyond criticism. It’s like a cat meowing. A cat meows, that’s what it does. John Ashbery writes that way; there’s no way to criticize it.

Ashbery is famous for writing poetry that makes no sense, and all sorts of complex reasons (including the fact he’s gay) have been offered up, but as Ashbery himself airily observes in the second interview of the book, he had crushes on women when he first wrote poetry in his signature style; he did not think of himself as gay when first writing as Ashbery. And if there was any doubt whether his obscurity is intentional or not, Ashbery himself makes no effort to be mysterious about it: “I don’t think I ever know where my poetry is going when I’m writing.”  And one finds Ashbery simple to the point of naivety responding to Frost’s famous epigram.  Ashbery: “it [is] harder to play tennis without the net.”

The prolific Ashbery merely practices the extreme simplicity of the rebel Beats. As Field (is this “deep?”) puts it:

When I started writing, the more revisions you made on a poem, the better it was. Poets bragged that they’d made 125 versions of a poem. John Crowe Ransom wrote about one poem a year. Philip Larkin too. But Allen Ginsberg said, “First thought, best thought.” And it’s really a very good idea. And Frank O’Hara had the same idea.

Surely Richard Howard will give us some “deep gossip.” But no, the third to be interviewed only says things like: “My students: They don’t read.” Writing poetry, teaching, and translating for him is “one activity.” He has “many selves.” And, “I’ve never really had a father.”

Edward Field—we keep coming back to him because this elder poet sets the tone—discusses one of his poems in which his penis is a girl. Ah, so that’s the secret of how gays are gay! How sweetly simple!

Field revels in being a simple outsider bohemian— he strips the fancy from everything. The gay Andy Warhol, for instance, is not an elaborate example of camp or Conceptualism; in Field’s eyes Warhol’s just a “prole:”

if you see poetry as ‘high class,’ you’re not going to write about Campbell’s soup. …prole Andy Warhol never put on any airs…

Aaron Shurin is next, and he calls himself “unromantic” because coming out as gay he was “another person.” Which makes perfect sense. One can’t be a Romantic if one is two people. Byron thought of himself as Byron—not a as a million different people; sure, Byron had different roles and moods, but that’s not quite the same as being “another person.” Nor does Shurin, we are sure, think of himself as really being “another person,” and yet Byron he is not, and so we understand why he calls himself “unromantic.” But heterosexuals distance themselves from Byron as well: John Crowe Ransom did.

Wayne Koestenbaum is the seventh poet to be interviewed in Our Deep Gossip and he, too, keeps it simple. To wit:

Jane Bowles, Jean Rhys, and Gertrude Stein—three of my idols and stylistic models—were profoundly matter-of-fact in their relation to weirdness…

Making God the subject of a sentence whose predicate is simply a ski bunny fills me with a sense of a deed well done, a day well spent. I get a Benjamin Franklin pleasure (the counting house of the affections) from writing a sentence like “God is a ski bunny.”

…poets who come up through the MFA route have a falsely idealized intellectuality, because they think intellectuality is the magic serum that they’re going to inject into poetry to lift it…

I’ll admit it: I have a baby fetish. I turn to jello when I see a baby. When I “finish” a poem…I get a “baby” sensation surrounding it.

The last “baby” quote from Koestenbaum is not queer at all. Or is it? Or does it matter?

Field’s ‘penis as a girl’ poem, “Post Masturbatum,” states simply, “Afterwards, the penis/is like a girl who has been ‘had’/and is ashamed…foolish one who gave in…” And this is echoed by Koestenbaum’s moral “With engorgement comes delusion. When you’re in that state, you’re not making good decisions.”

We flash back to Bram’s foreward, where he wrote, “people say, without embarrassment, ‘I don’t read poetry…”

Is “embarrassment” the key word here? If only people were ashamed to say they don’t read poetry! But they’re not. The non-poetry readers are not embarrassed. But Christopher Hennesy and the eight poets he interviews are not embarrassed, either, as Bram makes clear:

Neither Christopher Hennessy nor any of his eight genial, highly articulate guests express the slightest embarrassment over their love of poetry.

Perhaps there needs to be more tension between the two camps— some embarrassment, perhaps, on both sides.

When Hennessy approvingly quotes a Koestenbaum poem

My butt, at its best, resembles Faust’s dog.
It has an affectionate relationship to condiments.

he chortles, “Such loony lines!”

And this reminds us of Ashbery’s joke earlier: the simple use of a line Ashbery heard from the Antiques Road Show in one of his poems: “There’s a tremendous interest in dog-related items.” Both Ashbery and Hennessy laugh.

Is this what Bram means when he says “neither Christopher Hennessy nor any of his eight genial, highly articulate guests express the slightest embarrassment over their love of poetry?”

But doesn’t laughter depend on embarrassment? Field says funny poetry is a good thing, and that Auden changed everything for the better by elevating Light Verse to a higher place in the canon. Surely the humorous is a big part of modern and post-modern poetry.

But this is just one more piece of the whole common sense approach to Our Deep Gossip. Gay is embarrassing. And we laugh. But just as we would laugh at any number of things, sexual or otherwise, that are not gay.

Exactly the same.

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7 Comments

  1. noochinator said,

    February 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Introduction is free to read at Amazon, just click below — thanks for mentioning this book!

    http://www.amazon.com/Our-Deep-Gossip-Conversations-Writers/dp/0299295648/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1391520765&sr=8-2&keywords=deep+gossip#reader_B00G419334

  2. noochinator said,

    February 5, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    One of the things I admire about gay men in the arts (and I beg your pardon, for this is a generalization) is their lack of guilt — they seem to realize that ridding oneself of any and all guilt is step one in achieving psychospiritual health.

  3. thomasbrady said,

    February 6, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Yea, the puritans have guilt but no gilt.

    • noochinator said,

      February 6, 2014 at 1:19 am

      Yes, the religious people seem to have more guilt than anyone, despite their adherence to a belief system that tells them they are forgiven… I like to picture Quentin Crisp dressed in lacy, silken ecclesiastical finery, walking up and down between huddled masses, making the sign of the cross and granting absolution — and meaning it! Like Pete Townsend at the climax of “A Quick One”, repeating over and over, “You are forgiven.” Truly, with regard to guilt, gay seems to be much smarter than straight.

      • February 7, 2014 at 1:07 am

        I think I’m a romantic (though I think some people would probably call my kind of romance “erotomania”), but, anyway, I kept in touch with my Menninger’s therapist from the time I left Topeka in 1980 (after a three-year stay),until he died in November 2010, at age 94. And one year, as a little joke, I got him a Father’s Day card that said, “Happy Father’s Day from both of us.” (playing on the common definition of schizophrenia as “split personality”). David Bittner

  4. noochinator said,

    May 31, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Quentin Crisp interviewed by People magazine, from around 1984:

    For most of his life British-born writer Quentin Crisp, 76, has been a self-styled “blithe spirit reveling in androgynous anarchy.” Nonetheless he has managed, he says, to “reach the highest echelons of American society through the art of manners alone—and there is nothing else in my favor.” If good manners can do so much for an “unregenerate degenerate,” then there must be something to them. That is what Crisp argues in his 10th and newest book, Manners From Heaven, A Divine Guide to Good Behavior (Harper & Row, $10.95). The book is written in the same tartly decorous style as Crisp’s autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant, which became a TV film starring John Hurt and made Crisp a cult success as “a sort of writer and sort of public speaker.” In America, he says, “You can just be famous for being famous, and that’s what I’m now doing.” Louise Lague interviewed Crisp not far from the Manhattan apartment he has inhabited, alone, for four years without, he insists, “ever cleaning it.”

    What is the difference between etiquette and manners?

    Etiquette is a process of exclusion, chiefly practiced by the English, to make sure that people of a lower class than their own cannot enter their kingdom. Manners, especially in America, are a technique of inclusion, to make people feel welcome. To me, manners involve being deferential. You call people “Sir,” you don’t interrupt them when they speak, and you appear to listen and never contradict them. It’s a question of behaving nicely and of keeping quiet and not speaking unless spoken to.

    Isn’t it possible to be well mannered and assertive at the same time?

    I don’t think it is. I think if we’re going to be assertive, we must do it in secret, with people who will not be believed later when they speak against us.

    Then how do we get what we want out of life without just demanding it and, as you put it, “appearing to be an absolute swine?”

    Because what we want—happiness—is a relationship with ourselves, never with other people. We have to decide what we want, then we move cautiously toward it. If you demand things, you may begrudgingly be given them, but you will have lost the people who gave them to you. Manners are for those people who really are born losers, and who feel that what they have may be taken from them and what they do not yet have they may never get. If you creep forward, then you can quite often get what you want without losing anything.

    And if we must make demands ?

    If you are going to make demands, you make them very completely and very quietly. When you have things to give away, give them away very loudly. This is a way of keeping your image alive.

    Candor, spontaneity and sincerity are the bywords of the baby-boom generation. What do you have against them?

    Precisely that they produce hostility. I have known people who say in a self-congratulatory tone, “Well, you know me, I speak my mind and people must lump it.” Why should they lump it? Why should you speak your mind? We don’t want your mind to start with.

    You write, “The lie is the basic building block of good manners.” What’s the proper way to use a lie?

    Never tell wanton lies, never tell lies that merely build yourself up. If you say, “Will you marry me?,” I cannot say, “You’ve got to be joking.” This is rude. I say, “I am not worthy.” It means no. Now this is obviously in a sense a lie, but manners are not morality.

    Why should we bother to go around saving each other’s feelings all the time?

    Both for their sake and for our own. Anger begets anger; that is unalterable. So if you’re going to say, “Don’t bother me now, oh do shut up,” you are in the end going to produce a hostile situation. So you don’t say any of these things, and in this way you preserve a peaceful relationship with the world, serving you as well as other people.

    What can you do if you dislike your friends’ friends?

    I think you have to put up with people’s friends, unless they literally insult you. And then you might have to say, “I’ve had difficulties with your friend Mr. Smith, and I’m sure he would prefer that we did not meet again.”

    Who deserves to be dropped, and how is it properly done?

    Nobody deserves to be dropped, but in self-defense we do drop certain people. First of all you make it seem as if they cannot possibly bother with you any longer. You can never say, “Oh, don’t rattle on so.” You have to say, “I mustn’t keep you any longer, you must be bored to death by the way I’ve rattled on.” When you make excuses that you will not go out with somebody, you have to say that you are doing something else, which you realize is less enjoyable but which you have committed yourself to do, and you have to say what it is, so that they believe your excuse. Most people get the message that you cannot continue your relationship after about three refusals.

    You make some rather inflammatory statements: “If you can’t beat them, join them, and if you can’t join them, grovel.” Are you serious?

    Yes. I think this is absolutely essential. If you can’t join them it is no good knocking your head against a stone wall. You just have to stand at the door hat in hand and hope to join them. Ultimately you will be accepted, but of course it takes longer.

    What about this one? “A sex that wants equality with men can only be leveling downwards.”

    That’s right. If women want equality with men, then they want to be like this aggressive, coarse, unlikable, insensitive object. What women had was a muted superiority, and they’re in danger of throwing this away. It would be nice if everybody could partake of the virtues of both sexes.

    Quoting again: “Nothing in our culture, not even home computers, is more overrated than the epidermal felicity of two featherless bipeds in desperate congress.” What do you have against sex?

    Well, sex is a mistake. It is the last refuge of the miserable. It is largely a mannerless occupation. Takes up a lot of energy, a lot of time, causes a lot of shame and grief and for virtually no result. It accomplishes nothing. It is only a pleasure, and when we speak of manners we are speaking not of pleasure but of happiness.

    Speaking of sex, what’s the proper way to refuse a heavy-handed come-on, what you call a “pounce”?

    The ordinary reply would be, “Don’t do that.” But this is unmannerly. Originally, of course, you were allowed to say, “I don’t want to ruin a beautiful friendship.” Whether you can still try that I don’t know. I don’t think you can say you’re in love with someone else because this creates a competitive situation. I think you can say that you are too ill, too frail, or that it offends your religious beliefs.

    How should you accept a compliment?

    English women tear themselves down the moment you praise them. You say, “Oh, I like you wearing this,” and they say, “Oh, this old thing, I’ve had it for years, and I was thinking of throwing it away.” This is quite unnecessary. Just say, “Thank you.” And you must seem pleased to receive the compliment. On the other hand, never ask for compliments. It is bad manners to say, “How do I look?” and, “Do you really love me?”—these cannot ever be said because they provoke bad manners in others.

    What do you do if you’re the only person who’s been polite all day?

    Nothing. You can never make it apparent to other people that they have behaved badly, because if you ever see them again, they will then behave worse. I think good manners mean that you are in many situations the loser, but the gains are very considerable in the long run.

    When is it okay to talk about money?

    Money is a grave problem. When I was quite young, my sister, wishing to seem sophisticated, waltzed into the room and said that the people next door had no money to speak of. And my mother said, “But money is never to speak of.”

    If you had one message for the human race, what would it be?

    You should treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.

  5. noochinator said,

    January 24, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    An excerpt from “Vilja de Tanguay Exults” from Queer Street by James McCourt:

    “Style, neurologically speaking, is the deepest part of one’s being, and may be preserved, almost to the last, in a dementia.” —Oliver Sacks

    “Funny business, a woman’s career.” —Margo Channing, in All About Eve

    Vilja de Tanguay, male actress, is discovered seated in the worn, faded plush red velvet settee of a Soho lounge bar that has seen better days and classier ways, nursing a warm gin and It and smoking a Balkan Sobranie stuck in a long ebony cigarette holder.
    The Time is younger than Never, but older much than Now.

    I.

    I can’t imagine why I’ve agreed to talk
    To you, darling—you aren’t anybody
    At all, are you, although you certainly do
    Come highly recommended. Nevertheless,
    You realize, no queen can absolutely
    Trust her own henchmen; Elizabeth the First
    Both hated and feared the Star Chamber. It must
    Be this thing I have for yanks. My mum had too,
    A thing for yanks, and for the matter of that
    So did my poor bent dad, and a big thing too,
    One that must have given no end of relief
    To yanks and tommies, paddys, taffys and jocks
    All alike in the war. They did have that much—
    Mum and dad, in common, that and the music.
    And little me, darling that I was although,
    And I really oughtn’t go telling all this
    To a stranger…though all told, considering
    That bleedin’ exposé in the Observer
    Well, Miss de Tanguay was observed right enough,
    And thorough too, to a thanks-for-the-mem’ry,
    Right down to the bleedin’ suicide. That were
    A mistake on my part, luv, to give the snouts
    A sneak of the ending. Now she’s got to work,
    Buckle on them Bristol Cities, hump herself
    Into that flouncy cerise and bust her arse,
    Yes, to keep the omi bonas on the rut.
    Yes. Well, the snouts must work like the rest of us,
    And you must expect it, luv, you must expect
    The Great British Press to give you stick if you’re
    Anomalous in any way, anything
    But stock-issue Army-Navy merchandise,
    Or of course Danny La Rue, who’s not only
    A great star but a perfect gentleman. Yes,
    Danny La Rue set the bar for an entire
    Generation of artistes. And I always
    Was sensitive, from a child, what if the shrinks
    Always would go on as to how my wants were
    Far too simple and my loathings too tangled
    And complex. Oh, and by the by, regarding
    The snouts, luv, I would that much appreciate—
    And make it well worth the concerned party’s while—
    Any additional, supplementary
    Information individ’juls might offer
    Of whatever slanderous and libelous
    Invective related to this and any
    Other sphere in my regard clandestinely
    Circulated—for example that I am
    A tart who’ll squat and take a bit o’ rabbit
    From any ponce in the ’Dilly for the price
    Of a curry and chips. Well worth the while, luv.
    Because although I have not let this get out—
    And I trust you with it, I do, the truth is
    I’ve had a bit of money left to me. Yes,
    A nice little bit from a right old geezer
    I looked after once—changin’ his nappies, like,
    And given him ’is bath, luv, with a nice bit
    O’ slap and tickle thrown in compliment’ry.
    Well anyway, as luck would have it—all bad—
    Mum and dad was blowed up—yes, the pair of them,
    Blowed up returning to their digs, whilst on tour
    With Ivor bloody Novello—oh, not that
    He was in it, or anywhere near it, darling,
    Not on your Nellie. Up here in London was
    Ivor, snug as a bug in a rug, though truth
    To tell, nobody was, really, not even
    The royal family or toffs at the bloody Ritz.
    In any case, I wouldn’t’ve known, I was
    Evacuated to the Cotswolds, to gran’s,
    Dad’s mum, in which dwelling—a depressing place,
    All blackened brick and chipped tiles like the dark lair
    Of the spitting monsters whose spittle was death.
    I did not thrive there withal that the Cotswolds
    Is a charming district renowned in Britain
    For its stone cottages—not that yours truly
    Ever did set foot in one, a stone cottage.
    Not till that fatal night on the Embankment
    When first I entered with flushed cheeks the cottage
    With no doorway what’s framed in trellis roses,
    But cut stone walls half crossing one another.
    Do you know what cottage means in England, luv,
    Other than a proper dwelling? Means a loo,
    A public loo, that’s what, a bog, a crapper,
    A gentleman’s lavat’ry, and cottage-ing
    Means enterin’ into said facility
    For other purposes than uri-nation,
    Purposes that can still land you in the jug
    If the filth’s feelin’ exuberant that day.
    Anyway, luvvy, at gran’s I was thought of
    As a bug right enough—as a right species
    Of cock-roach—pun intended. I understand
    Some geezer wrote a book on the same subject—
    Well, I could tell him a thing or two first hand.
    And there I lived, crouched down like a little toad,
    Terrified, between the stairway balusters.
    I was always a bit chesty, luv, a bit
    Catarrh-ish. Seems in the Cotswolds that’s thought of
    As delicate—would you credit it? I mean
    To say, in Doncaster they’d laugh in your face
    Were you to take on the way with the vapours.
    There’s now’t so queer as folk, as the saying goes,
    But gran were other than queer, she were ghoulish.
    I remember this one time, me sliding down
    The polished-bright mahogany banister.
    She caught me at it and screamed, “Filthy! filthy!
    If you think I don’t know why little boys slide
    Down banisters, so they can feel that down there,
    You’re that much mistaken. Wheat that springeth green?
    I think not. You’re chaff, you are, blown in the air.
    Now you go sit in the bath and cleanse yourself !”
    I’d no idea, luv, what she was on about,
    And the bath needless to remark was frigid.
    Other times she’d sit on the old chesterfield—
    Flashin’ ‘er positively feral green eyes
    Under dreadful eyebrows, the dreadful eyebrows
    Of a beast—swillin’ pink gin whilst shufflin’ cards
    To lay out just there on the bible table
    For game after game of solitaire patience.
    I preferred animal snap, meself, but that’s
    Neither here nor there, is it, at this late date.
    Sit there alone list’nin’ to the wireless
    And screamin’ ragin’ like a thing demented
    Over Lord Haw-Haw. Or when she’d people in—
    Trapped is what they were, trapped, she’d be holdin’ forth,
    Cluckin’ like a brood hen how she didn’t hold
    With goings on, she were that particular.
    Right witness for the prostitution she were,
    Bloody-minded hypocritical old tart.
    A proper old snout at that; no tongue sandwich
    Were needed to make her talk. All prophetic
    She’d be, lookin’ into the middle distance
    Like some bloody Mother Shipton, holdin’ forth
    On any subject you like. She’d have them in
    Of a time, her like—a superfluity
    Of which it did seem t’ me was prevalent
    In the district. They’d sit, luv, in a circle
    And say strange things and read from recipe books
    Yes, gran would read aloud from Mrs. Beeton.
    I remember on one occasion it was
    On how to make a proper pot of tea. Yes,
    Imagine. You must warm the pot first of course,
    Put in the tea and pour in the hot water
    Just as it reaches the boil, else it will part
    With its gasses. “Rather like yew, Agnes,
    In’it?” one old crone cackled, “in that you’re
    Like to part with your gasses any minute
    Of the day, all sudden-like. One big old bag
    Of trapped wind, that’s yew, Aggie girl!” Well now gran
    Would never have allowed anyone else
    But this one hag to say such a thing out loud,
    To her face no less, but they were pigeons paired,
    Them two, save they were gorgons. No, Aggie girl
    Weren’t no oil painting, luv, case you’ve not
    Guessed the fact. No oil painting—’less t’were done
    By bloody Francis Bacon. She hated mum,
    She did, hated her like rats hate poison,
    Not for bein’ pretty though—she couldn’t see
    Beauty, it were outside her experience.
    No, for snatching—pun intended—her darling
    Straight from under her very fat red ugly
    Gin-pickled nose. Some pretty bloke ’e were too,
    Though he weren’t straight, luv, not a bit of it.
    Then accused me, right to my face, no sooner
    Than a proper face came on me, of being
    A bastard. “That filthy bitch whelped a bastard.
    Born under a treacherous star, that one was,
    You want to be wary of gettin’ near him.
    The stick that pokes the fires of hell’s what he is.
    Stalks you like a mute, the creature does, the while
    A mood of violent idleness prevails.
    I’d take no odds on his innings, ’specially
    In times of persistent fog.” A bastard, me !
    Illegitimate ! After the war she tried
    Collectin’ swag from the government, but they
    Soon enough saw through the old cow’s little scheme.
    With the upshot that yours truly was shipped out
    From the breath and stink of that dreadful dungeon
    In the Cotswolds in two shakes of a lamb’s tail—
    The little lamb what Mary had, or what had
    Mary, depending on who tells you the rhyme.
    Yes, me, illegitimate—out of some yank’s
    Shaggin’ bollocks what rogered me wayward mum.
    P’raps it’s true; seems likely, which is probably
    Why I like yanks. Like you, darling—oh, not that
    I imagine you’d’ve swung for mum, but swung
    For—swung on—dad, oh, you’d’ve done that, that much
    I’ll tell you gratis, from what I remember
    Of his person—distinctly, dear, in the bath.
    The bath was cold, but dad were’nt, not half. Coo,
    What a memorable member! Pity that—
    Not only that it was blown to smithereens,
    Sky high along with the rest of him, but that
    He didn’t pass it on to me. I don’t mean
    Get me to hold it or anything, the way
    You would a billiard cue or something, only
    You know, whatchamacallit, genetically.
    Anyway gran was murdered, dear—yes, murdered.
    In Hull; they found her with her throat cut open
    Like a bloody gaping shark, and that put paid
    To Aggie, and what I say is, good riddance
    To nasty rubbish. I cry Hallelujah
    To this bloody fucking day. Still, I reckoned
    She was dead right about mum, about the yank
    And about me, which suited me, luv, right down
    To the ground, so long as she was all along
    Dead as old dreams of merry fucking England…


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