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Nathan and the Swan by Pat Cammish

Arts Richmond

Online - 25 February 2021

Nathan and the Swan by Pat Cammish

Nathan and the Swan           With apologies to Stanley Holloway

There’s a famous lockside at Teddington,
A good place for fresh air and fun,
An' Mr and Mrs Golightly
Went there wi'young Nathan, their son.

A grand little chap were young Nathan,
 All dressed in ‘is best, quite a swell,
Wi' an 'Ogwarts wand so shiny,
The finest that Bentalls could sell.

They didn’t think much to t'sailing,
The boats they were really too small,
And when nobody capsized or drownded,
There was nothing to laugh at, at all.

So, seeking for further diversion,
They went to t' Skiff Club just there.
Said Father: “T’ folks ‘ere's reet friendly,
Not stuck up, or nose in t'air.”

The skiffs looked a bit old-fashioned,
All shiny and made out of wood.
“But there’s a bar upstairs - so later
 A pint of ale would be good!”

The Commodore, nice Mr Thingy,
Took them out for a row right away.
“Eee! This is grand!” said Mother,
“An' so far nothin’ to pay”

Gettin’ out of t’ creek was real easy,
‘cept that Mother got splashed on ‘er frock.
They turned out into t’big river,
An' ‘eaded off downstream to t'lock.

There were cormorants, coots and mallards,
‘erons and Canada geese.
An' lots of swans wi’ cygnets,
There were even parrots in t’ trees!

Young Nathan knew all about wild birds.
'E’d got pictures at ‘ome in a book.
But ‘ere on t'river were so many,
‘e didn’t know which way to look.

There were one great big swan on t’water
Wi' its ‘ead tucked under its wing.
Afloat in somnambulant posture,
As quiet as anything.

Now Nathan ‘ad ‘eard about swans,
‘Ow, with cygnets, they were fierce and wild.
To see this one there so peaceful,
Why, it didn’t seem right to the child.

So straightway the brave little feller,
Not showing a morsel o' fear,
Took ‘is wand and waved it like 'Arry,
 And poked it in t’swan’s rear.

You could see that the swan didn’t like it.
For it spread its wings out, open wide,
It beat them down on young Nathan
And knocked 'im clean over t’side.

Father shipped 'is oars quite neatly,
An' said  “Now what a to do!”
Said Mother, “Yon swan’s drowned our Nathan,
An' ‘im in ‘is Arsenal strip too!”

Mr. Thingy tried to give comfort.
There was sympathy true on 'is face.
But there were no gettin' away from it.
Young Nathan 'ad sunk without trace!

                           by Pat Cammish


Pat is a regular member of the Luther Poets, founded by the late Bob Sheed. She is also a regular performer at Poetry Performance, a group that holds regular monthly sessions at The Adelaide Pub in Teddington, at present via Zoom. Pat has had a number of her poems and short stories published in a number of magazines.


Please note that ‘ABOUT TIME’, the 2019 Anthology of shortlisted entries from The Roger McGough Poetry Prize, can still be purchased for £5 including P&P from Arts Richmond.


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