The Bureau has been very fortunate to be sent part of the transcript for a new BBC radio programme. Enjoy!
Presenter Amanda Bruce-Fanner: We read that lovely poem by Simon Armitage recently, all about bacon. Does that help you when you're perhaps feeling the sort of mental pressures you've described so meaningfully?
Guest: The bacon?
ABF: No, no, the poetry.
Guest: I think it does, you know. I mean we've been so busy for so long that you never get much of a chance to do all the things you'd like to. As I get older I'm beginning to see the importance of human feeling -
ABF: How old are you?
Guest: Fifty, Amanda.
ABF: I believe that William McGonnagle, author of the "Tay Bridge Disaster" is something of a favourite of yours.
Guest: Yes. I've never met him but I believe that he organized some readings a while ago for us. Great fellow and a tremendous fisherman! Not that we get the time to fish and it's a very expensive hobby which we can't indulge in too often.
ABF: Here's Gerry's desert island poem.
It's a Disaster William Mcgonagle*
Oh, twas terrible, terrible on that windy starless night,
Where the sardines are fished and the seagulls take flight,
Aye, and a monster stalked that stony shore, up to no good as he shuffled apace
To the nearby toun, with six-foot arms and black spots on his face
His long shaggy hair and a skin so swarthy as never was seen in guid old Dunday
In the market square where it rains every Monday!
'twas later that night in the twilight gloaming that people they roared
Call out the watch! There’s a monster abroad! And the people cried and the tears they oozed
For they all decided this was very bad news
And they looked for him hither and they searched for him thither
But nothing was seen in that cold May night weather
Nor since has he showed, at least on this earth, not even in Glasgae
For what that is worth
And to end this tragedy that we’ve all been lamenting
'twas all in the bounds of respons’ble parenting.
Guest: It's a bit different to what I remember.
ABF: But very moving. And I think very appropriate. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Guest: Ah'm, Ah'm not actually sure that's the one I meant.
ABF: This one, I believe, is a joint choice by you and your wife. Is that right?
Guest: Yes. It's by a man called TS Eliot who, I believe, has had mental health issues of his own, or was that Billy Connolly? He's very famous in America and I think was a guest at the White House when I stayed there.
ABF: What does it mean to you both?
Guest: You know it talks about the future and ageing, things like that.
ABF: Does that mean a lot to you?
Guest: Sometimes, after all we've gone through, we both like to think of… rest, I suppose, peace. Acceptance.
You'll Be Lucky! TS Eliot
I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled,
Then to the church on a sunny Sunday morning shall I stride or saunter, thinking manfully of vexed issues,
Such as the opaque debates of Tertullian and the winged lines of John Donne, or perhaps the pattern of my beloved’s heartbeats on a flickering screen
While puffing at my pipe.
You and I will stand rock-like, all struggles done. In peace.
ABF: Beautiful. Out of suffering can come wisdom.
Guest. Gets you right there.
ABF: And your last choice?
Guest: Well this one was sent to me yesterday by a well wisher - at least I hope he was! - and I was very struck by it. Ah don't fully understand it yet - but I'm getting there! It's by Shakespeare, who's always been one of my favourites.
To His Onlie Soulmate William Shakespeare*
What be this doom that surroundeth me,
Like as to cold fingers stretchd out from the grave?
No rest, no peace in the darkness I see.
Warmth and comfort alike canst thou crave
Alongside me in our cursed, tumbled bed
But nay, none will come; not now, nor at dawn
For us, say I, there will be naught but dread
Eternal, timeless, ne'er again the glad morn
No chattering chorus by blackbird sung
Our secret safe but our souls racked and drawn
Oh cover her face; she died young.
Our thanks to our culture correspondent M/S Carlotta di Spade for her research notes:William McGonagle 1825-1902. An unusually bad poet. The guest's doubts about whether this was
the poem he intended suggest that he may have been the victim of a hoax, possibly by a member of the BBC staff. No record of this poem exists.
TS Eliot. 1888-1965. While the style might be consistent with that of Eliot - just - the extremely un-Eliot title suggests that it might be by a follower, perhaps one who wrote a similar work called "Lobster on Cape Cod". There is no record of Mr Eliot staying at the White House while our guest was there.
William Shakespeare . This complex but moving poem only surfaced very recently - on the 18 September 2018.