Day 346: Cockpole Green

As she unlocked the ornate door of the Emerald Victorian, walked inside, and started preparing the morning coffee, Laetitia thought about what a great source of fun the Bailey and Hurst books had proven to be. She started the pot brewing, and by the time the aroma began to drift into the library, she had selected today’s destination from Rude UK.

Cockpole Green is a small village in Berkshire a few miles from the Thames. The original green for which the community is named is in two civil parishes: Hurley and Wargrave. Laetitia’s group consisted mostly of Americans who wanted to shop in England. It didn’t take long for them to exhaust the shopping possibilities in Cockpole Green, so she took them to nearby Henley-on-Thames, which is larger. She gave the group a few hours to shop and a designated meeting place, and then went back to Cockpole Green to spend some time on her own.

She sat on a bench on the old village green near a building entirely covered with ivy. She took out her book and began to read, but soon discovered that there was steady traffic of people with plants into and out of the building. There was no sign designating the building’s purpose. “Perhaps it’s a plant sale,” she thought. Her curiosity aroused, Laetitia put her book away and entered the building.

Inside was a large room with a bar at one end and tables in the center. It seemed a typical bar scene, until one noticed that the center of the room was lit by the eerie glow of grow-lights, and at the tables were humans sitting across from plants. Laetitia moved to the bar, perched on a stool, ordered a Pimm’s Cup, and looked around the room. In the darker recesses of the room near the back wall, there were humans entwined with plants.

The more brightly lit walls near the front of the room were covered with an interesting array of memorabilia. There was a portrait of the Jolly Green Giant that had an autograph that read, “With love from the Valley, J. G. G.” There were “safe sex” posters giving tips on how to stop the spread of aphids. Most interesting were the posters depicting classical Roman and Greek statues of men and women with their private parts covered with leaves still attached to entwining plants.

In front of the humans at the tables were drinks recognizable to anyone who had a libation now and then, but in front of the plants were blue drinks, not quite resembling a blue Curacao or a blue Hawaii. “That’s Miracle Gro,” said the bartender, “This is a green bar—our patrons are herbosexuals. I’m not of that persuasion myself, but I’ve worked here a number of years and know a lot about the movement. It’s a practice that goes back to ancient times and has yet to come out of the closet. There used to be a considerable amount of classical statuary like those on the poster over there. From time to time groups that adhered to rival sexual persuasions desecrated their statues by removing the entwining plants. They couldn’t remove the leaves covering the private parts without disfiguring the human part of the statue, so they left them. Later, when the various puritanical movements came along, it gave them an idea for covering up the sexuality of Adam and Eve and other nude art. There a few of the original statues like you see in the poster extant, but they’re mostly in private collections.”

Just then, a woman came into the bar and chose a stool next to Laetitia. She said her name was Melba and she had a zucchini farm in the country. She had been staffing her booth earlier, but, now was ready to go home and was trying to meet a plant to take home for the evening. The multiple-verse limerick of the day, which Melba’s story inspired, was presented when Laetitia rejoined her group in late afternoon.

When Melba strode through Cockpole Green
Her mind turned to matters serene
For since her salad days
Her vision would glaze
As she thought of things green but not clean.

On her job as she met with a client
She would think of the Jolly Green Giant
And sigh with relief
As he stripped off each leaf
While she lay down before him compliant.

And on holiday near Rosslyn Glen
She dreamed about Rosslyn’s green men
Who would lovingly grapple
With her in the Chapel
So she went there again and again.

When her listlessness made friends distraught
“They’re just green with envy,” she thought
And was happy thereafter
In a life filled with laughter
On the zucchini farm that she bought.

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.