Day 336: Knobs Hill Road

Knobs Hill Road (Rude UK number 35) is now mostly industrial, but there is a small enclave at one end of the street where the splendor of its Victorian past is still evident. In this exclusive ghetto, a few of the old-wealth families still live in a style that most Londoners only know about from books. Gone are the liveried coachmen and footmen of the past, but there are butlers, chauffeurs, cooks, kitchen maids, and housemaids. The interiors of the houses display elegant wood paneling adorned with shining brass fixtures. The area is an island of highbrow elegance in the midst the lowbrow. Not far away, in Victoria Park, the Underage Festival and the High Voltage Festival are held every July.

After a walk through the enclave, Laetitia took her group to several art galleries. Afterward most of the group wanted to shop. Laetitia wasn’t interested in shopping, so everyone agreed to meet at a nearby pub at a designated time. The pub they had chosen was working class. Laetitia sat at the bar within earshot of a table of young women, whose uniforms suggested that they were housemaids. A snippet of conversation she overheard provided the limerick of the day.

“June, do you mean that all you do at work each day is polish brass knobs?”

“Almost. There are gobs of knobs. I like my work. Some of the knobs are beautifully cast and are interesting shapes. There are a lot worse chores than polishing knobs.”

A housemaid named June who loved jobs
Where she got to polish the knobs
Enjoyed an abode
That was on Knobs Hill Road
Where knobs of all shapes came in gobs.

Day 335: Pert Close

As the delicious aroma of brewing Blue Mountain peaberry coffee wafted into the library or the Emerald Victorian, Laetitia was already deep in thought. She and her groups had been touring London, where the difficulty was not in finding interesting places to visit, but rather choosing from a multitude of options. In situations like this she usually spent some time scanning the library’s collection of books, looking for an idea that could become the day’s tour.

As she scanned, she was surprised to find Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in the collection. “I suppose it is a sort of mind-travel book,” she thought. When she pulled the book from the shelf, she found an even bigger surprise. It was bookmarked. “Obviously,” she thought, “This must mark the favorite passage of the Emerald Victorian’s librarian, whoever that is.” She began reading the bookmarked passage. It turned out to be The Miller’s Prologue and Tale. She was about to put the book down and search elsewhere when she came to the disclaimer at the end of the Prologue, where the miller warns the readers that the tale is bawdy and that if they are easily offended they should skip to the next tale. As one who wrote bawdy text herself, she wasn’t easily offended, so she continued reading until the end of the tale of the cuckolded carpenter, the young wife, the student, the moonstruck suitor, and the hot poker.

Still searching for the day’s destination, she found Pert Close in Rude UK and decided to go there. Pert Close is about a block off Pinkham Way near the Muswell Hill Golf Club. The day’s tour group, as it turned out, consisted entirely of golfers who had joined the tour because they wanted to play the Muswell Hill course. Laetitia made the necessary arrangements, and they made a brief stop at Pert Close on the way. Laetitia wasn’t a golfer, so she decided to have a Pimm’s Cup at the clubhouse while the golfers were on the course. The bar wasn’t busy at this hour, so she had an opportunity to listen to several stories from the bartender, who happened to live on Pert Close. One of his stories had several elements in common with The Miller’s Tale, and it became the basis for the multiple-verse limerick of the day.

On Pert Close lived Patricia and Curt
Now young Pat was decidedly pert
And prone to be saucy
Or forward and bossy
And a lady who tended to flirt.

Her mood often tended toward festive
While cavorting in poses suggestive
Outside on the lawn
Just a bit after dawn
Before breakfast of biscuits digestive.

So the neighbors of Pat on Pert Close
Watched each morn as she bent to touch toes
Suppressing their snickers
When she forgot nickers
And they laughed when she’d no pantyhose.

But Norman, the lad ‘cross the yard
Who of common sense, hadn’t a shard
Was a lad who would swoon
At each glimpse of the moon
And considered himself a fine bard.

He saw Pat as a woman quite glamorous
And each night would avoid being clamorous
As he carefully crept
Near the room where she slept
To recite for her his verses amorous.

And he thought he’d be sadly remiss
If he failed to plead for just one kiss
At the end of each night
But sad was his plight
For the closed window thwarted his bliss.

Said the neighbors, “That Norman’s a nut
For he nightly seeks to kiss her, but
Despite how he pleads
He never succeeds
And his life seems to be in a rut.”

‘Til one evening awhile after dusk
Norm smelled the strong odor of musk
From the window gapped wide
And he rushed right outside
And his timidness sloughed like a husk.

His face moved in a narrowing arc
Through the window ‘til lips found their mark
But, he couldn’t tell whether
They were oral or nether
The lips that he kissed in the dark.

But the aftermath of osculation
Filled Norm with such wild jubilation
That he loudly did brag
And was heard by a wag
In a pub where he had a libation.

On Pert Close, Pat and Curt had a laugh
About what they viewed as Norm’s gaffe
Saying, “He did not know
A bum from an elbow,’
Writ in stone will be his epitaph.”

Over drinks at the bar in their basement
They conspired to extend Norm’s debasement
And the gist of this farce
Was to present Curt’s arse
In the dark behind the open casement.

T’was a trick both embraced with élan
And all seemed just according to plan
Except for the wag
Who hid with his bag
In the back of a nearby parked van.

Just before Norm could venture outside
Through a van window now opened wide
The wag did let fly
With luminous dye
That struck Curt right on his backside.

For the instrument brought by the joker
Was not a Chaucerian poker
As the wag had his fun
What was aimed at Curt’s bun
Was a new modern-day Super Soaker.

Bum aglow, Curt ran off in the night
As it lit his way with eerie light
Pat entered a nunnery
And the wag practiced gunnery
And young Norman moved to Isle of Wight.

The neighbors all thought they were winners
For they hadn’t been fond of those sinners
And ‘twas an oft-told tale
One that took long to pale
As fine gossip recounted at dinners.

Day 334: Blue Ball Yard

In London, near the Thames, Laetitia and her group went for walks in Green Park and St. James Park, not far from Buckingham Palace. Afterward they visited the Royal Mews and walked by 10 Downing Street on the wayto the Household Cavalry Museum. Fans of the film Accidental Tourist know that there are some people who don’t like to leave home when they travel. Such tourists seek out McDonalds in Munich and Starbucks in London. This was the case with Laetitia’s group today. When it came time for a late lunch, they wanted to go to a place that served hamburgers.

Laetitia found an appropriate place in her guidebook. They walked down St. James Street and under a narrow archway into a cul-de-sac called Blue Ball Yard. At the end of Blue Ball Yard is an upscale hotel and their destination, a bar that serves American fare. The walls and ceilings of the bar were adorned with British and American memorabilia from World War II onward, including American and British admirals, warplanes, sports items, pictures of celebrities and the like.

Laetitia’s group spread out among the tables, and Laetitia sat at the bar. While the waiters were taking orders and serving her group, Laetitia listened to the bartender. “This area used to be Queen Anne’s mews. Lord Godolphin built the carriage house for her. They used timbers from wrecked wooden warships in its construction and it is now part of the hotel.”

Then he asked Laetitia, “What do you do?”

She answered, “I lead tours and write limericks.”

He said, “A limerick is a kind of poem, isn’t it? There used to be an aspiring poet named James who was a regular here. People in the bar used to call him ‘St. James’ after the nearby street, but he called himself, ‘The Bard of Blue Ball Yard.’ The title wasn’t a success; there’s something about blue balls that isn’t very appealing. Most of the other regulars thought it wasn’t a very smart choice.” Laetitia smiled and thanked him for his story. Then she wrote down the day’s limerick.

When young James, the self-proclaimed bard
Of the cul-de-sac called “Blue Ball Yard”
Learned the thought of blue balls
Is one that appalls
Getting over that proved to be hard.

Day 333: Shaver’s Place

Arriving in London, Laetitia arranged with a local Blue Badge Guide to take her group on a city tour. When the tour was finished, they had lunch and then walked to Shaver’s Place, a London alleyway listed as number 14 in Rude UK. As they started walking down Shaver’s Place, they passed a pub called Old Hundredth and decided to stop in for a drink. The pub was Scottish; “Old Hundredth” refers to a hymn from the Geneva Psalter based on Psalm 100 that was an integral part of the Sunday service of many Presbyterian Churches in times past. The interior of the pub was adorned with a variety of Scottish memorabilia. There was a bust of Robert Burns, a variety of tartans, painted scenes from the highlands, crossed Claymores, and posters advertising Scotch whisky from various distilleries. Laetitia sat at the bar and ordered a pint of Black Douglass Ale. While she drank it, the bartender told her a story about a Scottish couple that lived in London and were regulars at the pub. Their story became the limerick of the day.

A Scots lass walked down Shaver’s Place
And thought about men who shave face
And how she did savor
Smooth skin on a shaver
When locked in a loving embrace.

So she thought that it would be astute
To shave all her regions hirsute
Bare as when she was born
On that September morn
And imagined she would be as cute.

But when her love saw her, alas
He thought she no longer had class
For her lad from Glengarry
Preferred sporrans hairy
Especially when worn by a lass.

Then a book of Burns poems, he displayed
One with Cock Up Your Beaver portrayed
And did loudly aver
That if beavers lacked fur
There would never have been a fur trade.

But soon did the two reconcile
And once again, she did beguile
Him in her cutty sark
And they played in the dark
Just like Caesar and Queen of the Nile.