Day 308: Lili of the Lamplight

When Laetitia arrived at the Emerald Victorian and went into the kitchen to make coffee, the day’s pack was marked Dallmayr, München. It was a blend and a lighter roast than she was used to, but it produced a delicious aroma when it brewed and a taste to match. She looked on the Internet and found that it was a specialty food and wine shop in Munich that had been in business since the seventeenth century. Walking into the library with a steaming cup of coffee in her hand, she decided to play some German music.

She browsed through a stack of vinyl records and found one that had Lili Marlene, recorded by Marlene Dietrich, as its first track. Hans Leip, a World War I German soldier wrote Lili Marlene as a poem. After it was published in 1937, Norman Schultze set it to music. The German version, recorded originally by Lale Andersen, was so popular that an English version was soon published. The song had universal appeal among soldiers that transcended national boundaries. The first verse translated into English is:

Underneath the lantern by the barrack gate
Darling I remember the way you used to wait
‘Twas there you whispered tenderly
That you loved me
You’d always be
My Lili of the lamplight
My own Lili Marlene.

Laetitia wasn’t ready to go to Germany yet, so she put the record away. She needed to find a locale for the day’s tour. She browsed through Rude UK and eventually decided on Cockhaven Close, a street in Bishopsteignton, a village in south Devon. The village is not large, consisting of three churches, a post office, a small supermarket, a pharmacy, and a brewery.

Laetitia decided to take her group on an excursion train ride around the Devon countryside before going to the village, so they didn’t do their walk down Cockhaven Close until dusk. The street is a mostly residential cul-de-sac ending in a recreation of a Victorian village complete with gas street lamps. The lamps had just come on, illuminating a Cockhaven Close street sign on a lamppost and the woman standing beneath it. Laetitia couldn’t see the woman’s face clearly, but her clothes were a bit gaudy and her skirt was exceedingly short, exposing the tops of her nylons. “Lili Marlene,” thought Laetitia, “Or could it be the woman in the lamplight from T. S. Eliot’s Rhapsody on a Windy Night.”

Half-past one,
The street-lamp sputtered,
The street-lamp muttered,
The street-lamp said, Regard that woman
Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,
And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin.

The moment passed. Laetitia and her group walked through the recreated village and back to their hotel, where Laetitia presented the limerick of the day.

In the light of the street lamp, her pose
With her skirt hiked up high showing hose
And a sheer blouse of red
Looked ready for bed
Near a sign that read “Cockhaven Close.”

Day 307: Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! isn’t actually a town. It’s a resort village. Its developers chose the name from the title of an 1855 novel by Charles Kingsley that was set in part in this area. Kingsley was a clergyman from Devon, educated at King’s College London and Cambridge University. Later he became a professor and novelist. He was an early proponent of the idea that Darwin’s idea of evolution was not incompatible with Christian belief. Westward Ho!, Kingsley’s novel about emigration from England to the New World, was especially prized for its vivid descriptions of South American scenery.

Laetitia took her group to Westward Ho! because the holiday village found its way into Bailey and Hurst’s Rude UK. This dubious honor was conveyed presumably because of a slang meaning of “ho.” She couldn’t find anything especially limerick-inspiring about it, but it was close to some nice beaches and other attractions.

The group spent much of the day hiking the nearby Torridge Estuary Rail Trail. As she was dropping the group off at the hotel in Barnstaple where they were spending the night, an elderly American woman whipped out a jar labeled “Tired Old Ass Soak Bath Salts” from her purse and said she planned to use it before the group reconvened for dinner. She said, “I saw it in a catalog from Vermont. Its advertisement showed a picture of a donkey, but I think it’s really intended for people.” Thanks to this woman, Laetitia didn’t need to make her traditional visit a pub before dinner to look for limerick material.

If your life’s like Kingsley’s Westward Ho!
Full of troubles that cause you great woe
Try “Tired Old Ass Soak”
It isn’t a joke
It’s just made for folks on the go.

Day 306: Hole

Sipping coffee in the library of the Emerald Victorian, Laetitia pondered what to do next. She thought she’d stay in Devon a bit longer before moving on. So far she had enjoyed visiting the places that she had picked out of the Bailey and Hurst books, and she thought her tour guests had enjoyed them too. She picked up Rude UK, looking for additional places in Devon, and found “Hole” and “Westward Ho!” She thought to herself. “Who would want to live in a place called Hole?” Then she thought of J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit, which begins: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” She met her guests in Hole, but didn’t find any hobbits. All she found was a young man named Ace, who talked at length about his love of poker and his amorous ambitions, and provided the multiple-verse limerick of the day.

Ace longs with his heart and his soul
To go out with the ladies from Hole
And introduce poker
While playing the joker
In a manner exceedingly droll.

He’ll explain to them first what’s an ante
While dining at a restorante
And try to besot
Them to sweeten the pot
With rioja and salsa picante.

He will say that it’s so close to heaven
Playing stud, either five-card or seven
Which is played without drawers*
In casinos and bars
And in movies like Ocean’s Eleven.

He’ll recount, in a manner serene
The way of a king with a queen
And of diamonds and hearts
And the knave’s purloined tarts
In Alice, where the queen was quite mean.

He’ll talk of the straight and the flush
And now he’s beginning to rush
As he tries for his goal
Of ace in the hole
And he hopes that the lady won’t blush.

*Only draw poker has drawers.