Lament

It was just after I’d written the ‘Yancey Men’ article for Simple Talk that I came across the following verses which, I think, first appeared in Punch magazine. It was written after the poet,Wyndham Lewis, came across a court report in which one of the directors of a rather shady city company was recorded to have remarked ‘I was never chairman of the company, so far as I know’.

Lament

‘I was never chairman of the company, so far as I know’ – Old Bailey Remark

I heard a voice complain in Fenchurch Street,
Very bitterly it grieved, saying:

1

I wish I knew if I was chairman of this company,
It would make a lot of difference at conferences:
Gorgeous conferences we have, simply gorgeous,
Finest in the City, I imagine.
I am always in the top chair, but the boys will never let on if I’m chairman or not.

2

Sometimes after a jolly fine conference I say: ‘Boys, that was a fine conference, let’s have another.’
Then we have another, right on the spot.
I often slip in a word, as if joking, such as ‘Looks to me as if I’m chairman of this company’, but nobody ever takes it up.
Often when I’m signing things or shouting into my dictaphone (you ought to see my dictaphone) or maybe ringing through to main office and firing somebody, I wish one of the boys would just say: ‘Look at old Fishy – he’s chairman, you know.’
Nobody ever does.

3

For Heaven’s sake, why can’t they be frank with me one way or another?
If they’d just say: ‘All right, old boy, you’re chairman’, I could do a lot of things I’ve always wanted to do.
Such as swinging a big merger, Or correlating overhead with saturation-point, Or getting a whole lot of people, say twenty or thirty, on the mat at once and raking them with merciless eyes and saying:’ You’re out!’
I’d get a chairman’s portion on the Southern Belle too.
Dear Heaven, why can’t they tell me?

D. B. WYNDHAM LEWIS

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