Rhyme and political reason in the woods

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The Independent Online
The Ballad of the Tory Party

As I was walking through a wood,

One evening after vespers,

(On the footpath, as I should,

Being careful not to trespass),

I spied an aged man approach,

In mood somewhat distrait,

As if he'd missed his train or coach,

Or simply lost his way.

He wagged his head from side to side,

With many an anguished look,

And sometimes he stood still, and sighed,

And wrote things in a book.

'Oh, what can ail thee, worried man,

So like my aged aunt?

I'll try to help thee, if I can,

And if I can't, I can't'

He looked at me and shook his head,

And down his wrinkled cheek

As through some dried-up riverbed

Or long forgotten creek,

I saw a tear go trickling by

To irrigate his chin,

'Oh, aged gentleman, don't cry]

But tell me, are you in

Some dreadful mess or quandary?

And can I be of aid?'

He looked at me all solemnly,

And this is what he said.

'I wander through the dark, dark wood,

Taking copious notes

To think of ways in which one could

Increase the Tories' votes.

I work for Mr Heseltine,

Or perhaps it's Mr Lilley,

Which one has the locks that shine

And which is just plain silly?'

I told the old man which was which,

Which seemed to ease his mind,

And he leant against an old elm (wych)

And said, in tones resigned,

'Oh, all my life my work has been

For Tory Central Office,

And though I've long ceased to be keen

And they have empty coffers

I still go on through thick and thin,

Seeking to devise new truths to get the Tories in,

And if not truths, then lies.'

I shook him by his tattered coat

And shouted in his ear,

'What is this stuff? What Tory vote?

What is't you do, and where?'

He sobbed a bit, and then he spoke

(Though crying all the while,

Till I was afraid that he would soak

My coat, and ruin its style).

'They send me out to duly note

All those constituencies

Which would return a Tory vote

(With Conservative MPs)

If only their borders were redrawn.'

I grabbed his worn lapel

And, stifling back a mighty yawn,

Unleashed this ringing yell:

'Now tell me what it is you do,

And do not lie to me]'

His voice was like a tube of glue,

Squashed accidentally.

'I search out counties, made by us,

Like Avon and Humberside,

Which cause a never-ending fuss

And which, laid side to side,

Would stretch from here to far abroad,

And then I recommend

That their old form should be restored

And the modern one should end.

Back would come Somerset, Rutland, too,

Back would come Denbigh and Flint.

And all these counties would go true blue,

Even if they all went skint.'

'And do you also hunt,' I cried,

'For the something-for-nothing brigade?

Those who Lilley says have lied,

And had false money paid?'

'Oh no,' he said, 'For that would mean

Arresting the whole of the City,

And seizing the income of the Queen

And putting it all in the kitty]'

Another 3,000 stanzas of this delightful folk poem still to come.

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