The Banner

The Banner: a pair of jeans on a pole

verse epic


Part 1: Sid

Auksford crest: a great auk displaying an open book with the words "Ex ovo sapientia"
-  Auksford, 2004  -

© Robin Gordon 1999/2004

The moral right of the author has been asserted


Canto 1: A mother's concern for her child meets ingratitude

Canto 2: Effie reveals the identity of her beloved

Canto 3: Sandra's quick wits save Sid from danger

Canto 4: The fathers quarrel

Canto 5: A son is roused to vengeance

Canto 6: Jim doesn't understand and Sid confronts his foe

Canto 7: Old Jake enjoys his triumph

Canto 8: Jim runs into trouble and an invasion is repelled

Canto 9: Sid is proclaimed a hero and the Banner is won

* * * * *

Canto 1:
In which a mother's concern for her child mets ingratitude.

Ah, Muses, cluster round me, help me now,
and ice-packs bring to cool my fevered brow.
O Goddesses, I pray, inspire my pen,
for though the tale I tell is not of men,
though half-grown youths or boys run through my pages,
still, I shall tell of wars, of battles' rages,
heroic deeds performed and prisoners taken,
the great brought low the deep foundations shaken
of fame and honour while th'ambitious strive
to climb and make themselves, while yet alive,
such valiant heroes that the world may sing
their praises and the very heavens ring;
for Death may come, but it can never dim
the lustre of those men whom poets hymn.

Four tales I sing, the Cycle of the Banner -
O Muses, grant me poesie's loftiest manner -
the first, the Song of Sid, tells how a youth,
though misregarded, scorned, did prove in truth
to be a hero when the need arose,
how he brought low the mightiest of foes.
The second tells of Nails, by Sid brought down,
his name become a byword through the town,
and how ambitious Tommo used his fall,
and might have been the leader over all
of Halden's host, if Cupid's fickle dart
had not, e'en as he rose full pierced his heart.
The Song of Effie follows and it tells
how Effie's heart, besieged by Tommo's spells,
was torn between her loyalty to King
and love of peace, which she heard Tommo sing.
Whatever Effie does it must be wrong,
so, fourthly, Muses, let's hear battle's song,
how Halden's hosts and Swarrel's armies too
did clash at last, with daring deeds to do,
and what befell, and how were overthrown
the elder days, their valour overblown.

Far off, apart from battle's din and noise,
lie mothers weeping, sorrowing for the boys
they bore in travail on their beds of pain,
the sons they fear they'll never see again,
who pour their blood in torrents on the earth
for honour which they never had by birth,
and throw away their lives pursuing fame,
forsaking all to win themselves a name.

Small wonder then, when Mrs Gormley's Jim
was ready to go out, she questioned him,
for not to do so were not mother love.
But every fledgeling, be it hawk or dove,
longs to leave the nest and stretch its wings,
to pass in football games the fleeting hours,
or, musing thoughtfully, to pluck wild flowers.

No thought had Jim for battle's lofty deeds,
for, planted in his mind, there grew the seeds
of deep desire for poesie and art.
High culture's fires enflamed his youthful heart.
Let Mrs Gormley lay her fears to rest
and count herself among high Heaven's blest,
for Jim, her only son, has found no joys
in gang-fights, window-breaking, battle's noise.
Let Mrs Gormley's cheerful heart take wings:
her son won't join that rowdy gang of King's.
But yet, me seems, a cloud o'ershades her brow.
Speak, Mrs Gormley! Say what ails thee now!
A mother's cares are many for her child.
At first she feared lest Jim go running wild,
now other ways her inmost dread has turned:
has Jim with all the rest his manhood spurned?

A deep suspicion glowed
in Mrs Gormley's breast.
She to whom Jim owed
his life now stood depressed.
She feared lest others might
awaken feelings best
left in endless night,
imprisoned in the id,
that, all her care despite,
someone might make a bid
to lead her son astray.
Her fear could not be hid:
she feared he'd fall for Sid

"Oh tell me, tell me, son of mine,
sprung from thy father's manly loins
and nurtured in my womb, like wine
maturing in a cask, who joins
thee in thy errant journey forth?
Comes he from the south or north,
from the east or from the west?
Oh, seek companions from the best,
the noblest youths in all the land,
eschewing King's ignoble band
and all who would thy paths beset
with snares and pitfalls, who would get
thee into trouble with police,
so that my heart should never cease
to mourn thy innocence thus lost,
for it is I who count the cost
of youthful follies, bought so dear,
so prodigal of mother-love.
so let me make it crystal-clear
to you, my precious turtle-dove,
that if you cannot let us know
just who they are, your fine young friends,
and where it is with them you go,
then this is where your pleasure ends!

"Your father's noble heart is riven
from top to bottom. I have striven,
worked my fingers to the bone,
preserving here for you, my own,
my very own, my only son,
a decent home, which you for fun
reject for your companions wild.
My heart is broken by my child!

"Oh banish from thy brow this sullen frown!
If we should part in grief
my overflowing eyes in tears would drown,
for love's a thief
who steals away the happiness of those
who worship him,
if they should see their loved one and suppose
his love's grown dim."

Thus Mrs Gormley spake, then, growing dumb,
waited for the words her son would utter.
Would his heart before her pleas succumb?
What excuses would he humbly mutter.

Muses, you have flown from high Acropolis,
and searched both high and low the great metropolis,
you showed blind Homer's eyes the glories
that were Greece, and many are the stories
of deeds both great and small you have inspired.
Alas, to answer what you have enquired
I tremble, for it's dreadful to relate
what passed through Jim's young mind,
what waves of hate.
Alas for Jim, his crime is like no other:
ingratitude he shows - towards his mother!

"I'm fed right up to here!
Just let me go!
You always interfere!
You always want to know
everything I do!
I will not tell you, so
Just you sit and stew!"

But Mrs Gormley said
that she already knew,
and wished that she were dead.

"What do you mean," said Jim.
"It is the thing I dread:
you're going to see him!"

"Who's he when he's at home?"

"You must think I'm dim.
Oh, Jim, why must you roam
the streets with boys like Sid?"

"Cos in his brainy dome
such cultured thoughts lie hid."

"I'll bet they do," said she.

"He's worth a million quid
to me,"
said Jim, "and he ..."

"Oh can't you see," she cried,
"Jim, can't you see,
just what he is inside?
The world knows, all but you!"

But Jim turned, in his pride,
and to the door he flew.
"I'm going out!" he shouted.
"You make me want to spew!"

"D'you think that I'll be flouted?"
she screamed. By Heaven and Hell ..."
She was already routed,
and bitter tears now fell,
for what was in her warning
she was ashamed to tell:
that he'd corrupt the dawning
manhood of her son,
and then into the yawning
inferno, just for fun,
he'd cast her precious child,
enmeshed in webs he'd spun.
No wonder she was wild
and spoke the words she did.
No wonder she reviled
the beast who'd rend her kid,
when Jim cried out, "Oh would
that I of you were rid!
I'm going out with Sid!"

* * * * *

Canto 2:
In which Effie reveals the identity of her love

Muses, once again on you I call,
for now my task once more is to enthrall,
this time with evocation of great beauty.
"O Goddesses," I cry, "Come, do your duty!
Leave not the poet's tongue bereft of aid,
without which even greater talents fade,
but succour me, instruct me how to praise
those beauteous ones who hold men in a daze
and spur us on to better deeds to earn
their smiles and favours, teaching us to spurn
all base and horrid things with equanimity
and pledge ourselves to serving femininity."

In Swarrell, at the corner of a street,
there stands a hostelry that offers meat
and drink to all those who draw near
and would refresh themselves by drinking beer:
a public house, which in this place has been
for centuries, before the plague was seen
which ravaged Englishmen so long ago.
See, on its sign depicted is a toe,
encased within a boot of leather made,
which, swinging up, applies propulsive aid
unto the fleshless hinder parts of one
whom decent folks would wish to get him gone.
A leprous beggar he, with filth and sores
defiled, infection oozing from the pores
of all his skin, a vagabond and thief.
A stranger he to mutton, lamb or beef,
unless he steal it from a rich man's table -
and, judging by his looks, he seemed most able
as a thief, and like to be imprisoned -
so, booted through the air, this ancient, wizened,
wrinkled, wretched, luckless creature flies,
this leper, shunned by all until he dies.

This pleasant scene, for centuries displayed
outside the tavern, sometimes has dismayed
such goodly folk as care for surface show,
and give themselves fine airs, and claim to know
better than their neighbours what is best,
and think the world should dance at their behest.
Take Mrs Lambert for example. She
's a councillor, equipped with a degree
in sociometry, or some such area,
and when she's on the prowl there's no-one scarier.

Now she considers that the tavern's name
is quite offensive and a source of shame
to all progressive and right-thinking minds,
for it would be much prettier she finds
to call the pub The Leg and Leopard and
to show a leopard crouching on the sand,
where, gripping with its claws a leg of mutton,
its gleaming eye proclaims it as a glutton.
But blood and grisly gore would not be seen:
the leopard's jowls and claws would still be clean,
the leg not torn from any fresh-killed sheep,
but given by a butcher wont to keep
such things hygienically within a freezer.
Dear Mrs Lambert! That's the style to please her.
But still it hangs on faded painted boards,
irrespective of the views of lords
and ladies, and proclaims its name:
The Leg and Leper, for centuries the same.

Around the corner, by this self-same sign,
there came a-walking
two maids, as beauteous as the stars that shine,
both quietly talking.

But look, upon one maiden's brow there lies
a ghastly pallor.
'Twould spur a knight who saw it with his eyes
to deeds of valour.

Oh what can ail her, palely loitering here?
What consolation
can give her any friend who tries to cheer
her desolation?

Her friend now speaks her mind
and asks her what's the matter.
They say that Love is blind.
Has Love been shooting at her?
His arrows pierce all hearts
and sense and reason batter
until before the darts
the coldest brains surrender,
putting horses after carts,
hot coals outside the fender,
and crying over milk
that's spilt. Oh, Love would render
a lady dressed in silk
as witless as a fool.
No matter of what ilk,
a lord would lose his cool
when heated by Love's flame.
A youth just out of school,
a hero of great fame,
a noble maiden too,
a serf without a name,
they're all caught in Love's zoo,
imprisoned all in cages,
smouldering through and through
with passion's white-hot rages,
for Love has mightier power
than the greatest of all mages.

Alas, his precious flower
lay hidden in her heart,
cradled in a bower
whence it would not depart,
no matter how she wept,
and yet, despite her art,
its flame could not be kept
secret from her friend,
for Effie had been swept
completely round the bend.

But why this secret sorrow?
For, surely, if she'd mend
her woes, she'd but to borrow
from Nature's bounteous store
of beauty, and, tomorrow
she'd pierce right to the core
the heart whereon she'd set
her hopes, and evermore -
you could safely take a bet -
with iron chains she'd bind him
until he'd paid love's debt.
He'd leave the world behind him
and stay close by her side,
for Love would surely blind him
and other beauties hide
should she but make her bid -
but Effie wept and cried,
for Nature did forbid
the one she loved to love her,
yet held her, like a squid,
entrapped in love for Sid.

Sandra's mind is swept by consternation
and blinded like a desert traveller whom
the swirling sandstorm's lost in perturbation.
She cannot understand her Effie's doom.

"What is it you said?
I didn't hear it quite.
Your love is lost or dead?
Or did you say that spite
had come between the two
of you? Could that be right?
I understand you're blue.
Your boyfriend, what's-is-name,
(I can't believe it's true -
well, men are all the same),
he's left you in the lurch?
Is that his little game?
To get him to the church ...
Perhaps you are well rid ...
The girls will help you search ...
I'm sure you said ... you did!
You didn't say ... Not Sid!

How Effie looks, her eyes o'erbrimmed with tears,
as Sandra casts her loved one to the queers.

"He's not like that! I know it can't be true.
These rumours blacken every person who
stands out from commonplace and will not follow
the streetgangs in their fights, or with them wallow
in violence or in sex and vile pornography
but pleasure finds in poetry or biography.
I tell you, Sidney's not a homosexual.
So rare in Swarrel: he's an intellectual!"

"But," said Sandra, "this is what I heard.
He's never once been friendly with a bird.
He's fascinated, so they say, by Jim
Gormley, whom he's started calling Kim."

That's it!" cried Effie, jumping up and down,
her pretty face now creased in furious frown.
"It's little Kim who's leading him astray.
I'd make him mine if I could have my way,
and, if you'll help me, that is what I'll do.
Please help me, Sand! It all depends on you."

"But what is it you want from me?" asks Sand.

"To set your cap at Jim. I've got it planned.
It came to me like that, all in a flash.
This love of Sid's for Jim, it's just a pash,
a passing schoolboy crush, like once we got
for older girls. Remember, we were hot
for Moira Banks when we were in form two?
And, last year, how those little ones loved you?
If you can separate my Sidney from his Kim
then I can work my fem'nine charms on him.
It's just a passing phase he's going through,
and I can cure him - with some help from you!"

"All right!" cried Sandra, "If you want we'll do it.
I only hope you'll not have cause to rue it.
I'll feel as though I'm snatching up a baby.
Could I fancy little Jim? - Well, maybe."

* * * * *

Canto 3:
In which Sandra's quick wits save Sid from danger

Now, Muses, guide my verse a different way,
and let the warrior's grandeur come in play,
for down the street there comes a mighty throng
of youths, and in their hearts is battle's song,
and at their head bold Ernie King now stands,
whom they will serve with hearts and heads and hands
and follow into battle's din wherever
he may choose to lead, and each endeavour
to outstrip his fellows in heroic deeds
to serve his city's and his leader's needs.

What is for this array the vile occasion?
Have youths from Halden mounted an invasion?
Will there be a battle in the streets
of Swarrell? Oh what mighty feats
can we expect from heroes such as these?
Thus, with quaking hearts and trembling knees,
poor Effie and poor Sandra plead to know
where, and to what ends, their heroes go.

But at the sight of anxious Beauty's eyes
within the breast of King there doth arise
the flame of longing for a close embrace.
To hold within his arms, and kiss the face
of, Sandra, his adored, is King's desire,
while at his side bold Ronno is afire
with love, or lust, for Effie's sweet young form.
Thus Woman triumphs over Battle's storm.

Although these twain are smitten by the beauty
of Eff and Sand, their gang recalls their duty.
Returning warriors may receive rewards
from grateful ladies who embrace their lords,
wash blood from wounds, and smoothe away the cares
of battle's din, but women's wiles are snares
if they would keep their menfolk safe in bed
while others do the fighting in their stead.

"We've got a job to do,
we're going to do it too!
Come on, King, let's go
and strike the buggers low!
We'll bash 'em and we'll kick 'em!
We'll wallop 'em and stick 'em!
We'll stone 'em and we'll cane 'em,
debollock 'em and brain 'em,
and pull their trousers down
and drive 'em out of town!

"We'll slaughter 'em and kill 'em,
and pulverise and mill 'em,
and punch 'em in the guts,
and kick 'em in the nuts,
and spifflicate and blind 'em,
and into pieces grind 'em,
rub their noses in the gutter,
till surrender pleas they mutter,
then we'll laugh and jeer and scoff
and we'll pull their trousers off!

"We'll thump 'em and we'll bash 'em,
we'll marmelize and thrash 'em!
We will grab 'em, we will grip 'em,
we'll exterminate and rip 'em!
We will kick 'em up the rears
for daring to be queers!
Right across their throats we'll slice 'em,
then we'll cut 'em up and dice 'em!
We will feed 'em to the ants
and then take off their pants!"

Bloodthirsty threats, by Little Willie made,
for he the spokesman of the gang had been,
made Effie for her loved one sore afraid
when suddenly their import she had seen.

It wasn't Halden youths invading Swarrell
that fuelled the gang's now incandescent fury,
no age-old territorial quarrel,
instead, as prosecution, judge and jury

their victims they had chosen, judged and found
guilty without evidence or ground,
condemned them to a massive gang-attack.

These victims must be Sid and his friend Jim,
so Effie, as we know in love with him,
sought for some means to hold the tempest back.

"He's not a queer!" she cried, then bit her tongue,
for at her words they jeered, and how that stung!
Then Sandra, seeking for a way to aid her friend,
looked round at all the boys, and at one end
she saw a lad named Steve who once had been
a friend of young Jim Gormley's. Slight and lean,
dark-haired, and with a passing pleasant face,
one of the youngest in that crowded place.

So Sandra, having made of him her choice,
now lifted up her light and charming voice
and claimed normality for little Jim,
for Steve, she cried, had made a friend of him,
and Steve, for sure, would not associate
with any boy who'd like to copulate
with other boys instead of with a skirt.
"Ask Steve!" she cried, and Steven, looking hurt,
quickly denied that Jim had seemed a queer
when they'd been friends, for he felt sudden fear,
as Sandra'd realised when first she'd picked him,
that he might well become the gang's next victim.

So Steve's denial serves our Sandra well.
Out rings her voice, as clear as any bell.
"If Steve's not one and Jim's not one, then Sid
may be as normal as just any kid."

Boys' voices rose in outrage round about.
Her own would not be heard, though she might shout,
but Sandra has another trick in mind,
and, snuggling up to King, says she'll be kind
to him behind the railway engine sheds,
(the kindness usually received in beds
by married men, but youths must take their pleasure
where and when they find it, without leisure,
in furtive fumblings under bushes, or
in alleyways, or in a darkened door).

So King, forgetting all the oaths he'd sworn
that homosexuals in Swarrel born
should all foreswear their natures, swiftly fly
into the arms of girls or all should die -
or at least their trousers they should lose
and gain instead full many an aching bruise -
now to those arms himself has swiftly flown
and left his gang, quite leaderless, alone,
to mooch in idleness about the streets
while he and Ronno both enjoy their treats -
and, more than this, for Sand leaves nought to chance,
he charges them: they'll not to much as glance
at Sid or Jim if they should come across
those star-crossed friends - by order of the boss!

Thus King declares their doom
and fills the gang with gloom.
They've lost their chance of fun.
There's nothing to be done.

A little group departs
to go and find some tarts,
but others have no money
or think it isn't funny
to spend lots on a bint
and leave themselves quite skint
and never get a nibble.
So some complain and quibble,
and think King's edict's silly.
Then up speaks Little Willie,
who lost excitement grieves:

"The fault's entirely Steve's!
He claimed Jim's not a queer!
Well, while we've got Steve here
let's have some fun with him,
'cos he's a friend of Jim!
We all know what that means,
so let's take off his jeans!"

Now some are eager to join in
Little Willie's sort of fun,
but others call to them to leave
unfortunate, endangered Steve.
Still others are far too depressed
to want to help get Steve undressed.
So Little Willie starts to scoff:
"We're going to take his trousers off!"
Then someone says, "Let's get some chips."
Is this the sentiment that tips
the balance and saves Steve from shame?
Some wander off without an aim,
and others mooch and don't know where
they want to go, and don't much care.

* * * * *

Canto 4:
In which the fathers quarrel

Within the gloomy Leg and Leper
within the darkened bar-room here
stands a crowd of murm'ring drinkers
supping up their pints of beer.

Into their convivial circle
two new-comers make their way,
call the barmaid for refreshment,
take out coins their bill to pay.

One of these is Albert Gormley,
father of the star-crossed Jim.
He says he'd like to kiss the barmaid,
but Alice doesn't fancy him.

So he asks her for best bitter,
and she pours it in a glass,
and another for his sidekick,
which she'll quickly to him pass.

"Looks like rain," the sidekick comments,
feeding Albert's bar-room wit.
"Ay," says Gormley, "but they charge you
pretty prices just for it."

How they laugh and how they chortle,
while Alice sighs and rolls her eyes,
for she has heard this sort of humour
so often it holds no surprise.

"What's the matter with our Alice?"
Gormley cries with mock concern.
"Usually she's alert and perky,
full of life at every turn."

"Bounce, that's what our Alice always
has and that's the reason why
we all love her sense of humour,"
sidekick calls, and winks his eye.

"Buoyancy's the word I'm after,"
Gormley cries and cups his hands
as if he's holding massive breasts up,
while Alice humourlessly stands.

"Boy-ancy?" cries Ted, his sidekick,
grinning like an ape on speed.
"A man's required for little Alice.
I'll be the one to meet her need."

"If a man I ever wanted,"
said Alice primly, with a frown,
"You'd be the last I'd ever think of
in this or any other town."

"That's telling him," said Albert Gormley.
"I'll see you after closing time."
"By closing time you'll hardly stagger,"
said Alice, with expressive mime.

Said Gormley, "I can hold my liquor,
more than other blokes are able!
Name your challenger! I'll drink him
under that there bloody table!"

Well, now I call upon my Muse again,
for, just as massive, lowering clouds bring rain,
and promise storms, and lightening strikes and thunder,
now comes a darkening in our plot, a wonder.
It is a turning point, a vital scene,
a dire event that we can see will mean
some tragedy for our protagonists,
and lead to confrontations and to twists
and turns that may portend disaster.
Oh, grant me, Muse, the skill I need to master
these complications, put them all in verse,
as arguments and strife lead on to worse.

Between great Montague and Capulet
hostility arose to such extent
that Romeo and beauteous Juliet,
though honourable marriage their intent,
were pitched by fate into a storm so dread
it tossed them back and forth till they were dead.

In medieval Spain the jealous rage
of Don Diego, father of the Cid -
(whose story was adapted for the stage
by Pierre Corneille) - Diego's fiery greed
for honour led him madly to assault
fair Chimène's father, equally at fault,
and so they quarrelled, till the younger struck
the elder in the face and changed the luck
of Don Rodrigue and his betrothed beauty,
pitched both into a war twixt Love and Duty.

Just so with Jim and Sid, for now there comes -
the tension can't be hid, the air quite hums -
the father of the self-styled intellectual
whom Gormley stigmatizes homosexual.
Old Jake it is, an ancient, wizened fellow,
and, though there are some men whom age may mellow,
Old Jake is not among their happy throng.
Not for him the ancient's merry song
of loves and jests and mighty deeds of arms
long past, and life's long evening's charms.

His age with accuracy no-one can tell.
He could be eighty-three, but just as well
he might be under sixty, and they say
in all his life he's never worked a day
but lived on hand-outs from the welfare state.
One son he has, but, dismal to relate,
no wife, though one he must, of course, have wed
and taken with him to the marriage bed.

Jake Thatcher's wife? Is she perchance deceased,
or of her own free will has she released
herself from living in his squalid home?
Perhaps she felt the need to roam
about the world and find some other lover.
Where'er she's gone it's sure he won't recover
her or find another for his nest.
With Sid he lives alone - perhaps that's best,
for Jake's besetting sin is quite a bad 'un:
it is self-pity, and he tries to sadden
everyone with plaints of his hard lot.
Enough of that - let's get on with the plot.

As Gormley turns he bumps into Old Jake.
The impact causes his right hand to shake
and almost spill a drop of precious beer.
"I want to speak to you, Old Jake! Come here!"
he bellows in his strong and manly voice.
(He thinks it strong and manly, but my choice
of words for it would be uncouth and rough,
for Gormley likes to see himself as tough).

"Right-ho. Just let me get meself a drink."

"NOW!" roared Gormley, kicking up a stink.
"A word, I said, is what I want with you!
Not conversation! Just a word will do!
I want a word about your soddin' Sid!
I'll not have Sidney sniffing round my kid!"

"He's bright, is Sidney," quavered Jake with pride.
"Reads books. He's got a real good brain inside
his head for intellectual poetry and art.
Why, as for me, I wouldn't know where to start."

"Your Sidney, with his fancy airs and graces!
He talks of art, and all the time he chases
after little boys - well not my Jim!
Keep him away, or I will murder him!"

At these rough words Old Jake, in consternation,
trembling both with rage and agitation,
began to splutter and to spit and squeak,
so furious that he could hardly speak.

He could hold it in no longer,
it would burst forth in a torrent,
for he found it quite abhorrent
that Gormley should accuse
his son and so abuse
his honour in this way.
The lout would have to pay.

"What's that? I heard you call my Sid
a fairy poofter! Yes you did!
Well, I'll not stand it, do you hear?"

Old Jake then aimed at Gorley's ear
a wildish swing of his right arm.
But just before he came to harm
Albert Gormley grabbed Jake's wrist,
and, with a sudden painful twist,
he bent it round behind his back,
and Old Jake howled, as on a rack.

"Such pointless violence," Gormley growled,
"is all in vain!" The old man howled.

"Me heart! Me heart! Me heart!" he cried.
"Me heart! Me heart! I nearly died!
Me heart! I'll have the law on you!
I'm old, I am. Me heart! Aaargh! Ooooh!"

Then Albert Gormley grimly propelled
Old Jake to the door and swiftly expelled
him out of the pub by applying his knee
to the old man's bottom, so that, of course, he
went stumbling and falling out into night,
much like the leper in boot-propelled flight.

* * * * *

Canto 5:
In which a son is roused to vengeance

Come, Muses, let us turn from tragic scenes
in public places, though they be the means
of pushing on the action of our plot.
The time has come, it seems - like it or not -
to concentrate upon domestic life.
Old Jake, you will recall, had lost his wife,
and lived alone, but for his only son.
When Gormley did what you have read he's done
Old Jake fled swiftly to his grimy nest
to find a place where he could safely rest,
and bring to ease his agitated heart,
and find a champion to take his part.

There, lounging on a sway-backed couch, he found
his only son, who, mouthing without sound,
was reading from a book of poesie.
His arm he waved about poetic'ly
as silent syllables he spouted out,
till interrupted by his father's shout.

"I'm old, I am! It isn't fair!"
Now, from my age take twenty year,
and I'd show him a thing or two!"

Said Sid, "Now talk coherent, do,
for first you shout and then you mutter,
so that any word you utter
floats off beyond my understanding."

Cried Jake, "To you, my son, I'm handing
the bounden duty of revenge!"

"As ancient you are as Stonehenge,"
his son replied with withering scorn,
"and just as it's a mystery
why on the plain of Salisbury
and to what purpose should be placed
that monument, so, in your haste,
you have omitted to explain
just what it is that gives you pain."

"Don't take that tone of voice with me,
you little sod, 'cos you will see
I've suffered all because of you,
and that is why what you've to do
is seek out vengeance for your father -
unless, of course you'd really rather
skulk about and let them say
what they like of you, make hay
with both our reputations and
let family honour - understand? -
let family honour disappear
and let them all believe you're queer!"

"What's that?" Sid snapped,
attention rapt
from book and poems all at once.

"They say, my dear,
that you are queer,"

his sire replied. "Got that, you dunce?"

"They say, our Sid,
that Gormley's kid,
the little blighter you call Kim,
that fair-haired boy
who's all your joy,
they say that you ... do things to him!"

"What do you mean?
You must have been
drinking quite a lot tonight
to talk such tripe,"
said Sid, "so pipe
down and go to bed! You're tight!"

"Could it be,"
said Jake as he
saw a way from this impasse,
"that little nancy
makes you fancy
him because he's like a lass?"

Sid at last now caught the drift
of what Old Jake was trying to say,
and he denied it, rather miffed
that Jake should think of him that way.

"Twixt Jim and I," he said with scorn,
"there is no filth. As innocent
as any baby just new born
are we. Your mind it is that's bent."

"Not me," cried Jake, "but Jim's own dad
it is who harbours this suspicion.
He says you're lusting for his lad,
and he will send you to perdition
if once he gets his hands on you.
And me he hit, although I'm old!
So, Sid, you know what you must do:
confront him face to face as bold
as brass and tell him straight that you
've a girl in Halden that you see
on Friday nights, and that will prove
you're normal, and if he asks me ..."

"Why should I lie?" snapped Sid, quite vexed.

"Because he won't believe," said Jake.
"I think you must be undersexed,
but he'll just think you are a fake."

"Who I see and what I do,"
said Sid, "are nowt to do with him,
or any other louts, or you,
and if I choose I'll still see Kim."

"You will, will you, you little queer?"
yelled Jake. "And what about that gang?
If you've no sense, at least show fear.
If they get hold of you - ker-BANG!"

Riven to the bottom of his heart
stood Sid, while Jake into the kitchen went.
Two ways Sid saw, but which the better part:
confront his foe, or skulk and be thought bent?

Oh, hard it was, an intellectual's doom
to live among a pack of brawling yobs.
Artistic life in such a straitened room
was difficult as many high-paid jobs.

Rewards were none, unless you count the scorn
that falls on those who're different and who're born
in circumstances that condemn them to
live out their lives as specimens on view,
like animals exhibited in cages.
No wonder Sid's artistic soul so rages!

What right had Swarrell folk, without a thought
within the confines of their skulls, to scoff
at Sid, the poet-artist, and make sport? -
his schoolmates even hauled his trousers off!

Well, he'd left school and found life on the dole.
He'd tried the factories but found them grim.
He needed freedom for his vatic soul,
away from common folk who laughed at him.

The boring grind of sweeping round machines
was not for him who dreamed of brighter scenes.
The poet's mind was floating in the clouds,
above the heads of inartistic crowds,
oblivious of their lives - till he was gripped
and forcibly of nether garments stripped.

The freedom he'd been granted by the state
as one considered unfit for employment,
was it to be denied him by the hate
of common louts who envied his enjoyment?

Was he to be denied his only friend
because they knew him different from the rest?
Would he be hounded till his life should end?
He felt self-pity rise within his chest.

He would see Kim and not be forced to part
from him, his only friend. T'would break his heart.
Perhaps he could avoid this pointless quarrel
if he met Jim in Halden, not in Swarrell -
but if old Gormley heard what they had done
he'd beat the living daylights from his son.

Imagine then poor Sidney's harsh dilemma:
to stand up to the brute or to avoid him?
Invent himself a Gwendoline or Emma?
The difficult decision near destroyed him.

Old Gormley was a brute who'd bash his kid,
so Sid would have to meet him face to face -
but then perhaps the brute would beat up Sid.
Far better skulk in rumour's foul disgrace.

But then again, if people thought him queer,
there was another danger, worse, to fear:
that gang of youths who roamed about the streets
and counted bashing queers among their treats ...
"I can't risk that ... I mean ... he might hurt Kim,"
said Sid. "I must explain the truth to him."

* * * * *

Canto 6:
in which Jim doesn't understand and Sid confronts his foe

Leaving Jake in mingled fear and pride,
Sid made his way outside,
and, on his way to meet his fearsome foe,
he met - well, whadd'ya know? -
he met his only friend, he met young Jim,
and this is what he said to him.

"Wait for me, Kim!" he cried.
"You what?" said Jim.
"Whate'er the fates decide,"
Sid said to him,
"however things turn out,
I did it all for you!

"Some day you'll understand
just what I've planned.
Remember, I'm your friend,
right to the end,
and never never doubt,
whatever people do.

"Don't doubt, whate'er they say.
I'm still the same today
as I shall be tomorrow.
It's all of you I ask.
I go to face a task
to turn away our sorrow."
He clasped Jim by the hand.
Jim didn't understand.

Now you may think I'll plunge in medias res
and show you next the crisis of our plot,
but I have need to moderate the pace
and introduce an intermediate slot.
Leave Sid to press ahead to meet his foe.
Jim, puzzled, hangs about the street, and so
he is on hand when Fate, that mocking minx
who smiles like Mona Lisa - (or the Sphinx,
believing none of us can guess her riddle) -
when Fate decides to cast him in the middle
of boys who've been bereft of violent pleasure
and roam the alleys, bored with too much leisure.

Jim wondered, lonely as a cloud
that floats on high o'er hill and dale,
when all at once he saw a crowd
of rowdy boys and turned quite pale.

Along the street they came, those boys,
complaining all in doleful voices,
for Sandra's ruse robbed them of joys
and King's decree excluded choices.

"Oh what can ail thee, little lad,
alone and palely loitering,
thine aspect pale, thy visage sad,
thy reason plainly tottering?"

Thus spake their leader and forthwith
around him closed the throng,
though only five or six were there
so throng's perhaps too strong.

Now Pete and Andy had it in
their minds to make some sport of Jim,
so Andy, with a wicked grin
and feigning mischance, barged at him.

From the pavement Jim then staggered.
Andy cried, "Oh, sorry Miss!"
Peter, not to be a laggard,
chimed in swiftly, saying this:

"Waiting for your boyfriend, are you?
Waiting for your true sweetheart?
He'll come and then with kisses jar you,
lots of kisses for his tart."

Then Andy, not to be outdone by
Peter, chimed in with this ditty,
teasing Jimmy just for fun by
offering him mocking pity:

"For her sweetheart she is waiting,
waiting for her own true love,
waiting for the boy she's dating,
waiting for her turtle dove."

Guffaws all round, then Steven Howe
spoke up and said, "Aw let him go!"
Then Andy yelled, "We've got her now!"
and Pete said, "Six to one and so
she's at our mercy, in a fix.
Come on lads, let's have her knicks!"

Then Steve yelled, "King said not to hurt
Sid or Jim!" The boys looked vexed.
"D'you think we'd bash a bit o' skirt?"
said Peter. "Well, whatever next?
It's just that lassies shouldn't wear
trousers, so let's strip her bare."

"You're gonna help us, Howe," snarled Andy,
"cos if you don't we'll know what you
dream of when your feeling randy.
Not Yvette or Peggy Sue
but me and Pete, and him and him.
You're just as queer as Sid and Jim!"

"Please, why d'you call us queer?" Jim cried.
"Is it because we both read books?"
They laughed until they nearly died
and cast upon him mocking looks.
"I told you that he doesn't know,"
said Steve. "Why don't you let him go?"

But Jim then questioned them again:
"Tell me why you call us queer!
If it's all right for Oxford men
why is it thought peculiar here?"
Again they laughed, good humoured now,
and Andy said, "You tell him, Howe!"

So now at last there comes, so long awaited
the confrontation scene.
Our hero, Sid, with courage unabated,
a youth, untried, still green,
must face up to the man who slighted Jake
and poured forth scorn
on Sid himself. 'T would be no piece of cake
e'en to a hero born.

It must be done, and so 't were best done quickly,
for Sid and Jake have suffered grave offense.
Like Don Rodrigue, whose father's rash and prickly
humour left his son in an immense
and difficult dilemma, now poor Sid,
untested yet in battle's skills must face
one of Swarrell's lions. Must his bid
for reconciliation bring disgrace?
Muses! Now I call on you again!
Give me the tongues of angels and of men,
that my poetic skills may be so strong
as not to do my faithful hero wrong!
Inspire my heart! Illuminate my song!

Come listen to my tale about a boy named Sid

whom people called a queer, so this is what he did,
he went out looking for to try to find his foe
till he came to the Leg where he knew he had to go.
-- The "Leg and Leper", it's a pub, a drinking den.

He found Albert Gormley a-propping up the bar.
He said, "Mr Gormley, now things have gone too far.
You've made allegations about your son and I ..."
Then Albert Gormley snarled at him,"Prepare yourself to die!
-- He was mad. Foaming. At the mouth.

Now Gormley took a swing at Sid and grabbed him by the throat.
The others said, "Don't kill him, man, although he gets your goat."
They said, "If you should murder him you'll dangle on a rope,
so moderate your fury, man, 'cos while there's life there's hope!"
-- It's a saying, a proverb, a wise old saw.

Well, the next thing you know Sid feels a draught of air
a-playing around his naked derrière.
Gormley'd got Sid's pants down, and he said, "I should be thanked.
He might have turned out normal if only he'd been spanked!"
-- By old Jake? Some hope! Ow, that hurt!

Then Albert Gormley gave to Sid six of the very best,
while Sidney very nearly howled his lungs out of his chest.
When the punishment was over he fell upon the floor
till Albert Gormley picked him up and threw him out the door.
-- Into the street, outside.

Now meanwhile in the street outside Jim's mother sought her son,
and Mrs Howe was with her and saw what next was done,
for Sidney fled the public house, confused and in a blunder,
the two of them collided, fell - with Mrs Gorley under.
-- She screamed, good and loud. So did he.

Now Mrs Howe in panic seized Sid Thatcher by the waist
to pull him off her screaming friend, but, in her nervous haste,
all that she achieved was to pull his trousers down,
while Sid's and Mrs Gormley's screams were fit to wake the town.
-- The town? They could have wakened the dead.

Around the corner, running quick, came Jim, Pete, Steve and Andy,
and what they saw there made them think
that Sid had turned quite randy.
He had Jim's mum upon the ground, his pants were round his knees.
He clearly ment to rape her there despite her piteous pleas. -- His guilt was plain - as a pikestaff.

Jim looked at Sid and cried aloud, "You said whate'er may come
you did it all for me and now I find you've raped me mum!
I'm gonna to get revenge on you! You'd best get out of here
before I tell the Swarrell gang you're just a filthy queer!
-- So filial piety overcame friendship.

Now doesn't it seem tragic that things have turned so sad
for Sidney: he's been walloped, now people think he's bad.
They think he is a rapist. He's lost his only friend.
He's sore, shamed and rejected, so what will be his end.

* * * * *

Canto 7: in which Old Jake enjoys his triumph

In ancient Greece there lived a man
of learning deep and wide,
who within one lifetime's span
compiled a poet's guide,
laid down the laws that govern art,
the plot, the stucture and the part
that's played by an heroic, great,
and sometimes good man, and to date
no theorist of drama or
critic can have added more
than caveats or details to
the work that he set out to do.

Aristotle was his name.
't was he who said a plot
in tragedy that's worth its fame
must cross its "t"s and dot
its "i"s by rousing fear and pity
in showing fall of prince or city.
The plot must be a unity,
enlivened by peripety.
Catharsis brings a moving grace.
Complications set the pace.
It's possible Discovery
may bring about recovery.

In witnessing the fall of Sid,
a weak and feeble boy,
I must admit - it can't be hid -
there's no cathartic joy,
for pity can be linked to terror
when a great man falls through error
and then is reconciled to fate,
accepts his cast-down, fallen state.
Although Sid's errors were quite plain
yet still he can't be said to gain
the satus of a tragic prince.
As hero he does not convince.

Muses, Muses, what is this?
Can you have let me down?
Must I suffer boo and hiss,
a byword through the town
for failure to achieve my aim?
Is this the end of Sid's short fame?
But wait, for Aristotle said
a plot, through twists and turnings led,
must have three parts: it must begin,
a middle next in place we pin,
and finally come to an end,
and so a final part I've penned.

Sid hurried home, and there Old Jake
anxious words unto him spake.
Had he performed, in duty bound,
what he had promised? Had he found
Albert Gormley and convinced him?
Even marmelized and minced him?
Sid, who could not tell for shame
the true end of his little game,
allowed his father to believe
that Albert Gormley would receive
with humble meekness his approaches,
submit himself to Jake's reproaches.
Jake then cackled, "Hee hee hee!
Come and have a drink with me."

But Sidney quickly told his father
he had a headache and he'd rather
stay at home. So off Jake went.
Sid realised where - could not prevent.

Meanwhile there rose among the drinkers
calmer thoughts, for some were thinkers
who realised that force majeur,
though useful to shake off a cur
that snarls about one's feet and ankles,
when used on people often rankles,
and causes them as like as not
to think and dream and scheme and plot
of vengeance and to go to law.
If direct action has a flaw,
they pointed out to Albert Gormley,
it is that those who take it norm'lly
find themselves put in the wrong
and have to sing a different song.

If Sid and Jake should take their case
to the police then Gormley'd face
the legal powers that rule the state,
and who knew than his likely fate.
Asault on ancient, feeble men
must count as crime, and then again
far worse was what he did to Sid.
Now that had really put the lid
on any possibility he might
claim that fearing that a fight
might start he'd gone and lost his head.
That argument he'd killed stone dead
when, having overpowered the lad,
he'd stripped and spanked him. Things looked bad.

Gormley's anger slowly faded,
and, though he growled, he was persuaded
he risked a fall through Old Jake's malice.
He quailed and paled, for just then Alice,
the Leg and Leper's barmaid cried,
"Here's Jake right now!" He drew aside.
Then Old Jake swaggered to the bar,
said, "Albert Gormley, there you are!
You'd best be nice or you will be
in trouble with my Sid and me!"

Now Gormley, cowed by thoughts of law,
no longer red in tooth and claw,
besought Old Jake, if he would please,
to forgive him. To his knees
he almost fell in abject terror,
and this, you see, is how an error,
rose in the minds of Ken and Stan.
They came in quietly, saw the man
whom Swarrell thought a roaring lion,
a swaggering, raging fellow, high on
the sense of his importance and
liable to turn his hand
to smacking heads and boxing ears,
cowering and full of fears,
while Jake, triumphant, stood his ground
and filled the pub with cackling sound
of ancient and malicious glee:
"You'll catch it from my Sid and me!
So just behave yourself or you'll
be really made to look a fool."

Jake swigged the pint that Gormley'd bought,
and Gormley, fearing he was caught
in jeopardy of going to jail,
deferred as to a stronger male
till Jake in triumph swaggered out.
Then Ken and Stan began to shout,
"What about some service here?"
Alice said, "Now just you clear
off, 'cos I'm not serving you!"
They went. What else was there to do?

Meanwhile young Jim is in the street
with Steven, Andy, Tom and Pete.
He's out for vengeance, for he thinks
that Sid, his former friend, quite stinks.
He talks of poetry and art,
appealing both to brain and heart,
aesthetic intellectual stuff
that's now revealed as slimy guff
intended to ingratiate
himself with Jim so he could mate
with Jim's own mother - what a jape
for Sidney to commit a rape.
So Jim's determined to denounce
him to the gang so they can trounce
him, kick and beat him as a queer.
Now Steve expresses mortal fear
that if the lads catch sight of Jim
the boy they batter will be him;
but Jim is not to be deterred,
for family honour has been stirred.
It drives him on revenge to seek,
as merciless as any Greek
from Agamemnon's family feud.
His raving cannot be subdued.

* * * * *

Canto 8: Jim runs into trouble and an invasion is repelled

On either side the railway line
lie goods yards in a long decline,
where foxes, crows and sparrows dine,
and teenage lovers oft recline
on guilty makeshift beds.
There too the gang would oft times meet
in hidden, secret, safe retreat,
initiations to complete
behind the engine sheds.

Beyond the goods yards lies the beck,
where sometimes forth the gang would trek
upon their enemies to check,
their schemes to thwart, their plans to wreck,
and insults pour upon their heads.
Beyond the beck lies Halden town
whose walls upon the goods yards frown.
Thence Swarrell's enemies look down
upon the engine sheds.

And here the gang have congregated
in aimless boredom, unabated,
and drunk and smoked and masturbated,
but still their thirst cannot be sated:
they want to kick in heads.
To them come Ken and Stan and say
what they saw. Hear Willie bray:
"Debag 'em both without delay
behind the engine sheds!"

Next on the scene comes bursting Jim,
and Steve and others follow him.
Young Gormley cries with visage grim:
"Tear Sid Thatcher limb from limb!"
Astounded turn their heads.
Then Willie sees another jape
and Jim is grabbed. He can't escape,
but all he does is talk of rape
behind the engine sheds.

His charge of rape their jeers all drown
as Willie cries, "Let us pull down
his trousers and around the town
parade him shirt-tailed like a clown,
as any stripling dreads!"
As Willie's mob then gladly went
for Jim, his friends tried to prevent
his doom, and some were sprawling sent
behind the engine sheds.

Then Effie comes upon the scene,
and she and Sandra scream, "That's mean!"
and Willie shouted Kim's a queen!
Let's strip him bare of pant and jean!"
However King now treads
onstage and "Break it up!" he cries,
lest Halden take us by suprise.
They're on the march! Their route now lies
straight for the engine sheds!"

When Swarrell hear the clarion call
"To arms! To arms!" they swiftly fall
into warlike stance and all
prepare themselves to meet the brawl,
to fight and punch in heads.
So Jim is left upon the ground,
his trousers only partly downed,
bruised a bit but safe and sound
behind the engine sheds.

Then off they storm into the fray,
confident they'll win the day
no matter how the fates may play
with their pliant, mortal clay.
They've really lost their heads.
Now here are left just Eff and Sand,
and Jim who doesn't understand
why all went wrong with what he'd planned,
behind the engine sheds.

The youthful Nails Palmer came out of the east.
In battle and skirmish his gang's not the least.
Napoleon B. in comparison pales,
for never was leader resourceful as Nails.

His troops in position, his ambush is set.
When the Swarrell lads charge they will neatly be let
into the trap which will close with a bang -
and that's why Nails Palmer's the chief of the gang.

It's Tommo he places inside a back lane,
instructed to wait till the battle's in train,
then bring out his troops and attack from the rear -
as tactician Nails Palmer is quite without peer.

The poet Burns has said the plans of mice
and men gang aft agley. That's rather nice,
and true as well, for when Fate takes a hand
it's not just Jim who doesn't understand.

The instrument that Fate had taken up
to dash from Nails's lips the victory cup,
the spanner that she chose to thrust amid
the spinning wheels of strategy, was Sid.

For Sidney, fearful of his father's scorn,
when at last on Jake the truth would dawn,
had fled his home to mooch in isolation.
To him the approach of youths brought consternation.

The Swarrell gang came on and Sidney fled,
his weary limbs made light by wings of dread,
and after him they came with threatening shouts,
thinking he was one of Halden's scouts.

He ran and ran, and after him they pounded.
He drew ahead of them and then he rounded
a corner, running at his utmost speed.
Fearing those behind he didn't heed
what lay ahead, then out on him there sprang
from hidden ambush eager Tommo's gang.

Now King, who saw this, checked his lads and watched,
and realised an ambush had been botched,
for other boys came pouring out of alleys,
not waiting for the time to make their sallies.
Then Nails himself came running in despair
to call them back. He really couldn't bear
to see the ruin of all that he had planned.
It left him tearful, desperate, unmanned.

"It's Tommo's fault," he thought, and swiftly pressed
into the fray where Tommo and the rest
were fighting with a frightened, flailing Sid.
"Too soon! Too soon!" he cried. "You should have hid!
Get back before the Swarrell gang descends!"
and desperately he clutched his struggling friends.
But now into the wheels Fate sticks her spoke,
for, as they part, Nails stumbles on the bloke
who's at the bottom of the sprawling brawl.
He falls, is grabbed, lies helpless, hears King's call
to charge, and sees the Swarrell lads sweep down
to clear of enemies their native town.

The battle's swift, for Halden's disarray
has left them unprepared for any fray,
and so they flee, and as they flee they lose
scarves and leather jackets, belts and shoes.

The Swarrell lads return in triumph, brag
of doughty feats while brandishing their swag,
till Willie sees two lads down on the ground
still struggling. They are parted. Nails is found.

The victory of Swarrell is complete.
The capture of Nails Palmer is a feat
that elevates his captor to the fame
of instant hero. What can be his name?

* * * * *

Canto 9: Sid is proclaimed a hero and the Banner is won

In any moment of such crisis
one thinks, of course, of those devices
which Aristotle said were needed
in any poem. We have heeded
Aristotle, and our plot,
(beginning, middle, end), has got
complications too, and error
fit to rouse cathartic terror,
protagonists, antagonists,
peripiteia, turns and twists.
The poet's comments form the choruses,
but now it's time for anagnorisis.

When Oedipus sees the bird he's bedded
is his own father's lawful wedded
wife, in fact she is his mother,
or Iphigenia finds her brother,
Discovery or Recognition
brings the plot to its fruition.
Can I be blamed if what's now found
is based upon inadequate ground?
Sid's discovered. Evidence
points in unexpected sense.
The boy the gang had once despised
and called a fairy had surprised
them all by capturing their foe's
leader. Surely one of those
Could not perform so great a feat!

Then in chimed Andy, Steve and Pete
and told how they had seen him leap
on Mrs Gormley. In a heap
he knocked her down and tried for sex,
for they had seen him with his kecks
around his knees and heard her screaming.

Then Ken said, "See! We weren't dreaming!
Jake made Gormley buy him beer,
and Gormley trembled, pale with fear,
whenever Jake referred to Sid.
He's raped the wife, seduced the kid,
and bashed the man whom people thought
invincible, and now he's taught
the Halden gang a lesson too."

King said, "Well lads, he will do!
He's one of us! One of the gang!
He's made his debut with a bang!"

The Willie cried in wild elation,
"Come on, then, lads: initiation!"

"Leave him!" snapped King. "Let's not forget:
the prisoner's got to pay his debt.
Whate'er it is that he most dreads
we'll do - behind the engine sheds!"

The Willie spoke up once again:
"Let's take him to our goods-yard den.
Tradition calls for public scragging.
I know what's right for Nails - debagging!"

The lads all cheered and Nails turned pale:
to skip around with just the tail
of skimpy shirt to hide his tool
would really make him look a fool,
and if his foes should send him packing
barelegged homeward, trousers lacking,
the lads of Halden, once they knew
of his disgrace, would scorn him too.
Detrousered he would be unmanned,
derision, jeers on every hand:
for if his pants he can't defend
his leadership is at an end.

Then King, in pure triumphant joy,
cried out, "OK! Debag the boy!"
They picked him up, Sid Thatcher too,
and marched off to the gang's HQ.

O'er all the goods yard there was quiet.
Far from the din of battle's riot
Eff and Sandra, silent, listened
to Jim, and Effie's bright eyes glistened
with unshed tears to hear his tale,
for Sid, unreconstructed male
that he was had tried to take
Jim's mum by force. He was a fake.
His talk of poetry and art
was nothing but an actor's part
designed just to ingratiate
himself with Jim. Now boiling hate
had filled poor Jim's tormented soul.
Revenge alone would make him whole.
So when the gang was heard returning,
and Sand yelled "Flee!", Jim, wildly burning,
cried out that he would stand his ground
until his vengeance he had found.
"I'll tell them all he raped my mum!"
he shouted. "Sid is queer! He's scum!"

The Swarrell gang swept in the triumph of might
into the goods yard, into Jim's sight,
and, scanning their throng he espied there amid
them, borne on their shoulders, his enemy Sid.

The gang were all chanting, and this was their song:
"We've captured our enemy! We are the strong!"
We've captured our foe and we're going to scrag him!
His jeans are our trophy! We're going to debag him!"

Now Jim was delighted and let out a cheer.
He thought it was Sidney, the rapist and queer,
they were going to beat up, and he thought it was grand,
for here was his vengeance, just as he had planned.

The gang threw their prisoner down onto the ground
and swarmed around eagerly till they had downed
and pulled of his trousers, so only the tails
of his shirt hid his shame as they danced around Nails.

Then hither and thither they threw Palmer's kecks
while he blundered after, protecting his sex
from mocking and grabbing, from prod and from snatch,
in a desperate attempt his trousers to catch.

Jim saw this and still he could not understand:
while Sid stood unharmed someone else was unmanned
and made to dance pantless and jeered at and mocked.
Jim swiftly ran forward at Sidney and knocked

him down to the ground and pummelled his cheeks,
till Ronno grasped Jim by the shirt and the breeks,
and pulled him upright and brought him to King,
who said, "What's the trouble? Now spit it out! Sing!"

So Jim told them all his story again,
but King just hailed Sid as the greatest of men,
and Willie yelled, "King! Hand him over to me,
and I'll take of his kecks with the greatest of glee!"

Then Sandra called, "Stop, for he's just a poor baby
who can't understand what a hero Sid may be.
Let Sidney decide what's to happen to Jim!
Let Sidney decide! Let's put it to him!"

Now Sid stood confused, with his head in a whirl,
and whate'er Sand suggested agreed with the girl.
What was happening and why he just didn't know,
so he nodded his head when she said, "Let him go."

Then King, in his tiumph, took Nails Palmer's bags
and said, "These will make us the greatest of flags:
The Banner of Swarrell, so Hist'ry will know
how we and Sid Thatcher defeated our foe!"

Now Sid is a hero, the hero of Swarrell,
he ought to be wearing a wreath made of laurel,
so King on his shoulders drapes Nails Palmer's pants:
the Banner of Swarrell is Sid's Ehrenkranz.

And now to their victim they turn once again
and drive him with mockery out of their den,
for a homeward walk, trouserless, jeered by their throng,
while Swarrell, triumphant, roars out this song:

"Nails Palmer was the leader of the mighty Halden gang,
Nails Palmer was the leader of the mighty Halden gang,
Nails Palmer was the leader of the mighty Halden gang,
but we took his trousers off!
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
we took his trousers off!

Nails Palmer came to Swarrell with a hundred boys or more,
Nails Palmer came to Swarrell with a hundred boys or more,
Nails Palmer came to Swarrell with a hundred boys or more,
but we took his trousers off!
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
we took his trousers off!

Sid Thatcher caught Nails Palmer and he dragged him to the ground,
Sid Thatcher caught Nails Palmer and he dragged him to the ground,
Sid Thatcher caught Nails Palmer and he dragged him to the ground,
and we took his trousers off!
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
we took his trousers off!

Sid Thatcher held Nails Palmer while we chased his gang away,
Sid Thatcher held Nails Palmer while we chased his gang away,
Sid Thatcher held Nails Palmer while we chased his gang away,
and we took his trousers off!
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
we took his trousers off!

Nails Palmer's gang kept running, running all the way back home,
Nails Palmer's gang kept running, running all the way back home,
Nails Palmer's gang kept running, running all the way back home,
and we took his trousers off!
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
we took his trousers off!

And then we sent Nails Palmer back to Halden in his shirt,
And then we sent Nails Palmer back to Halden in his shirt,
And then we sent Nails Palmer back to Halden in his shirt,
when we took his trousers off!
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
Glory, glory, halleluiah,
we took his trousers off!

Well, that is the end of the story of Sid
whom people despised while his lantern lay hid
under a bushel, a bucket or pail,
for nobody thought that he'd ever scale
to the heights that he did. No-one dreamed of the manner
that he'd win for Swarrell its trophy: the Banner.

* * * * *

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