Day 338: Middlesex

Laetitia thought, “One cannot go to London without seeing the residences of the Queen and the Royal Family,” so she arranged with a local tour company to take her and her group first to Windsor Castle and then to Buckingham Palace. They viewed Kensington Palace and grounds from the outside. The latter palace is near Kensal Town and Droop Street. Droop Street is Rude UK locale that Laetitia thought might make a good limerick, but on their walk there, nothing came to mind. “Maybe later,” she thought.

She also drew a blank at St. John’s Wood, a Rude UK site near Regents’ Park, although Arletta, a member of Laetitia’s group on this day, thought the latter street name was especially hilarious. As it turned out, she had a personal reason for these thoughts. The street name reminded Arletta of the most desirable feature of a former boyfriend whose surname was St. John, but was assuredly no saint. Later that afternoon they had a late lunch at the nearby Rex Restaurant on Piccadilly, and Laetitia was beginning to despair about writing the day’s limerick until a conversation at a nearby table provided one.

A question that sorely did vex
A Welshman who dined at the Rex
With a London West Ender
Was “What is the gender
Of the folks who live in Middlesex?”

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.