The Ale-Wife and the Bell Man
A poem read by the parch to St Mary's church, Bottesford
By Sue Mackrell, 2007
Lord help us and save us
I’m going to swing for that bellman.
Keep the noise down, will you,
I was just dropping orff.
I wish you would.
She shifts and stretches her neck
And another thing.
He groans and curls his teeth.
Things have gone orff round here you know.
Now when those Manners were around,
We had a bit of class, then.
“Manners maketh man,” I always say.
Eight earls, six Knights of the Garter,
And they were lovely garters.
Blue, bit of gold lace on them.
Nice turn of calf,
Couldn’t help noticing.
And then there were the cod-pieces.
Course men knew how to dress then.
And the women,
How things have changed.
I mean look at that lot down there.
“Ladies,” if that’s what they are,
In trousers, if you please.
Like a lot of chicken wishbones.
Spindle shanks the lot of them.
And no head dresses.
Like a lot of bare bobbins.
A lady covers her hair.
Now, my Lady Elizabeth,
She knew how to dress,
Beautiful gowns, beautiful.
Frills and ruffs and furbelows.
Needed them when it was a bit nippy.
Those were the days.
Mind you, someone said the other day I look like a queen.
‘Course my ears pricked up
Under my wimple.
“The Red Queen,” they said.
“Alice Through the Looking Glass.”
Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think.
Oh don’t start that blessed bell again.
And you can shut your mouth, pipeboy.
Except you can’t.
What do you mean, “Oink?”