I'll tell thee everything I can
There's little to relate.
I saw a tall and silvery man
A-sitting on a gate.
'Who are you, aged man?' I said
'And how is it you live?'
And his answer trickled through my head
Like water through a sieve.
He said: 'I walk the Mendip Way
From Bristol to the sea,
I knock on cottage doors and say:
'Have you got a TV?'
And if they have, I ask to see
Their licence fund receipt.
And if they have not paid their fee
I kick them in the seat.'
But I was thinking, as he went on
In accent posh and strange,
Of a plan that I had just begun
To save the Stock Exchange
By using the rise and fall of shares
To make cheap energy
And bring down bus and railway fares
And day trips to the sea.
He said: 'I walk the Mendip Hills,
Loitering and alone,
Thinking of ways to pay my bills,
Just me and my mobile phone.
And when I hear the telephone ring,
I answer, 'Is that you, John?' '
But I was hardly listening,
As the old man burbled on.
For I was thinking of a plan
To privatise the air,
And make the average Englishman
Breathe through meters everywhere.
'What is't you do and where d'you go?
And do you pay your tax?'
I shouted good and loud, although
At risk of heart attacks.
'I tell my governors what to do,
And then they go and do it.'
'And if they don't kowtow to you?'
'Well, then, by God they rue it]
And I change my name to get my way,
By cutting it in half.
For a name like Duke is distingue
But Marmaduke makes them laugh.
'I work inside the BBC
As Chairman of the Board,
Hoping one day that I will be
A knight or even lord.
But I am nearly 70 now
And promotion soon is vital -
I really wish that I knew how
Lord Barnett got his title]'
But I was working on a scheme
To build a Channel link,
Using engines powered by steam
Made by boiling ink,
And so I knew not what he meant,
Nor could I understand
Why such an old and reverend gent
Was at liberty in the land.
'Tell me, old man,' I cried at length,
'What brings you to this wild?'
I shouted at him with all my strength
And he cried just like a child.
'I comed up here to get away
From the press and interviews,
From the prying lens, and News at Tens
I hates being on the news]'
And now, if e'er by chance I go
Down through Somerset
I think of that old man long ago
Whom just by chance I met,
Whose hair was white like melting snow,
Whose smile was cold, and did not glow,
Who did not stop when men said 'Whoa]'
Who always said, 'No comment, no',
Who helped to run the Bath West Show,
But did not really seem to know
When it was time to rise and go -
That winter evening long ago,
Down in the Mendip Hills.Reuse content