Written by Erskin Quint
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Thursday, 23 June 2011

image for Still They Keep Coming: More Letters To The Editor Coleridge Was Always Chatting Up Women On The Waltzer, While Wordsworth Wrote Poems To A Vicar's Daughter

Dear Sir,

I thought your readers may be interested in some antedotal eveydense that obtrains of a famious pearson.

You see, I did life nearbie the fourmar Primed Minster, Sir Edwin Heathe, when he was still livine with his morther, Shirley, at Sellsea.

They had a moddest home then. That was befor Edwin, as we callt him, got to Parleymend. They just had the caler gaz and a potible Tellie. I remmibmer Shearley was found ouf the Blackened White Minister Show, but Edwin turned up his snout at it. He was even then a prowed boy, with his ayes on hire themes. There was the one dacksunt dog, it crapt in oure yared.

Ed joint the local saline club, he was found off yautes and was fiendly with an Admireal off the Fleet. My housebound, Stanlee sede Edwin was a "pouffe", but I dunno. He dide ware a blazier and a carafate. Standlie didnot, Edwine was warine thise, Standely woulde waire a broiler suite.

Poure Edwin was so upsaid whence his morthour movede to Bornmouthe. At nite you coulde hear him in his bedrume. He was obcessed with Ejipchoen sand dancineg and wude ploy "Wileson, Kepel on Betty" and you cude here him sand dancine into the moonlide. Back and fourth, bag and foreth, in hiss streang vesst. The dacksunt woulde be oute in are yarde crappine.

Yaws,

Mrs Nora Hideous,
Sell Sea

Dear Sir,

I have been reading about Mr Thomas De Quincey, about how he is the famous "English Opium Eater" and similar hyperboles.

Let me tell you, I can put the record straight on this subject. I think you can accept my authority, seen as how I was Mr De Quincey's landlord for a goodly period, when he lived here at Otley, when he was attending the horticultural college at nearby Ilkley.

Let me say, I am used to the ways of students and young people. My wife Rosamund and I have lodged many youngsters over the years, both from the Horticultural College at Ilkley, as well as from Bingley & Shipley Chiropodists Training School.

We are no strangers to the antics of these young people enjoying a last fling before the world of work descends, and we are a tolerant race, Rosamund and I.

But Mr De Quincey was nothing like that. He worked so hard at the College, often going there early and returning late by the 39 bus which meant he missed supper and his cauliflower cheese or boiled haddock or toad in the hole was lukewarm at best. This was because he used to do the college garden as well as his own lessons.

He would never leave off about wanting to landscape our yard into what he called an "Italianate Garden" and kept showing us drawings of plans, with terraces, ponds, busts and camellia bushes.

Another thing he was keen on was seals and sealions and his room was full of paraphenalia, with pictures of seals and sea elephants cut from magazines stuck to the walls and seal cups and ashtrays.

But the thing you really dreaded was to be stuck with him when he was onto his favourite subject which was the Bentonia School of Blues music, especially the works of Skip James. "James' open D minor tuning and high-pitched, idiosyncratic vocal style give his work a haunting, almost oriental flavour", Mr De Quincey would say, whenever he got the chance. When Marc Bolan was killed, he went and sat under a tree and sang "Devil Got My Woman" and "Ride A White Swan" over and over. His dream, he said, would have been to see Skip James play with T Rex, and was sad when it was proved impossible.

This was the Thomas De Quincey Rosamund and I knew.

Yours sincerely,

Wilf Lungworm,
"Khartoum Villas",
Otley

Dear Sir,

I enjoyed reading your article about the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge, and about how they used to earn some extra money in summer working the fairground rides at Blackpool, and it was there that Coleridge wrote "Kubla Khan" after a trip to Morecambe's Happy Mount Park and a crate of Mackeson, while Wordsworth was the prim and proper one who cleaned the fridge out and was always picking up dirty socks and emptying ashtrays and was everywhere with his J Cloth. It was Coleridge who was the one for the ladies, he chatted them up on the waltzer, while Wordsworth fell in love with a vicar's daughter who visited their landlady Mrs Jugge and wrote poems and long letters to her which he never posted and Coleridge used to light his cigars with.

In this light, perhaps your readers may like to hear about another poet who was known to my family, when he used to stop at the guesthouse of my great grandmother Miss Maniac each Whit.

This was no other than Poet Laureate Lord Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson. Now Lord Laureate Tennyson is known for the great tragedy "Charge of the Light Brigade" and the moving "Come Into The Garden Maud", as well as "The Lady of Shallot". And his photographs are always dignified and severe.

But, as my great grandmother Martha Maniac said, in real life Lord Laureate Tennyson was as "mad as a besom" and "daft as a boathorse" when he stopped with them at Kings Kneecap on Dartmoor. When I say "with them", Martha Maniac was a spinster, so I can't think who "they" were, or how she came to be my great grandmother. There is a family rumour that "they" were a gang of sailors, or a troup of Persian acrobats, but this is hearsay from the Berkshire branch of the family, who are hostile to us since Lionel Bludgeon was cut out of a will and had to seek his fortune in the Grimsby cod fleets.

Lord Laureate Tennyson would go for long walks on the moors, and return, flinging off his hat and ordering rashers and a pipe. Then he would start on the impressions. He would have them in stitches all evening doing "Gladstone v Disraeli" whereby he dressed half like Gladstone and half like Disraeli and would keep turning side to side to enact the two parties. He even had a two sided "Gladstone-Disraeli Bag" he would turn and turn about too. Then, when it was late, and the dandelion and burdock was flowing, he would cover his face with boot polish and play the banjo, singing the songs he had picked up when he had worked the Mississippi Showboats as a young lad.

This is a side not often seen to Lord Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson, and not easily gained from his photographs or reading his verses, though I feel "Come Into The Garden Maude" does have a ragtime feel to it in the right context.

Yours faithfully,

Hugo Juxtaposition-Wilkinson,
Lampeter

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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