CONVENING IN CLEVELAND
(in memory of the late John Brander)
On the last night before demolition
after the Karaoke has been silenced
and the girl with the real tattoo
has ushered home her drunken beau,
the remaining guests at the seedy, downtown hotel
gather behind the bar along with the staff
to drink and talk late into the morning.
Up at the Town Hall, two days on
from the Pop Concert where hoards
of pubescent young things defied goose pimples
to walk the streets outside in thin chiffon
not hiding their curvaceous flesh,
now dock-lads on pay night tear up crash barriers
to use as weapons against their rivals.
As the police sirens wail,
the cigarette-smoking feminist
escapes the melee in a taxi;
joins the rest of the hotel party
unaware of the building's forthcoming demise.
The management offers round the remnants
of a birthday tea they've over-catered for;
gives the Irish girl a meat pie -
"to fatten you up, lass!".
After one bite she stubs it in the ashtray,
plays a jig on her harmonica,
then "God Save The Queen" and
rounds her recital off with "The Red Flag".
Sharon from the bar
keeps asking for change to phone a taxi,
trying to get away from the cellarman
whom she claims is moving in so close
he's almost halfway into her bra.
The attorney from the U.S. of A,
buys some salt-and-vinegar crisps,
but after close scrutiny of the sell-by date
decides he ought to send them back.
Even after his tenth pint, the Yorkshire psychologist
tells him it's probably best to let sleeping crisps lie
rather than risk a confrontation,
since the landlord is busy playing pool
and threatening to smash his cue
over the top his cellarman's head,
if he doesn't leave Sharon alone.
The man from the university,
recounts the time he wanted to tar his shed roof;
how he purloined a pail from a road-mender's site,
transported it in his boot all the way back from Wales -
when weeks later his wife nagged him to finish the job,
only then did he discover it wasn't macadam;
he'd stolen a bucket full of shite!
At breakfast time, the bulldozer
is already waiting outside.
The financial advisor with the irritable bowel
cannot stomach the sausage
that has been defrosted overnight on the bar;
then he finds there is no paper in any of the loos.
The regulars are going to give
their custom to the Wig & Pen.
Adrian, John, Geoff, Gerald,
Hilary, Maureen and Jean,
the last seven guests
all sign in the visitor's book
that they'll be coming back one day.
© Gerald England
Composed: Middlesbrough, 16th May 1994
1996 Harvest (USA)
1998 Boggers All (UK)
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