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by Joella 

Posted: 09 December 2009
Word Count: 696
Summary: I've revised / edit Happy Bottom's 'Not So Cheep' poem, in the light of WW member comments. It has changed a great deal. I hope the rhythm is better. I'd appreciate any comments and advice on punctuation. Never quite sure where to put the comas. Your help is valued and much appreciated.

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Anthony Payne was a Major,
retiring to  live in  the town
But the hustle bustle and traffic noise
was really getting him down. 

He dreamed of life in the country, 
not too far from the coast
And one morning his prayers were answered 
when a letter arrived in the post.

‘Ewe Bean Done Solicitors,’ 
wrote of an Uncle, long forgotten
The Major astonished to learn 
he’d died and left him his Bottom.

Well, Happy Bottom to be precise,
an estate in the vale of the Piddle
The Major brimmed with excitement 
trusting it wasn’t a fiddle. 

Next day in his old Bentley,
he drove to Dimple on Piddle
Musing a view along the way
that country folk were a bit simple.

Major Payne studied at Oxford,
when life was never more  pleasant
But would he be able to  hack it
with ‘Jam and Jerusalem’ peasants?

The town of Dimple looked festive, 
bright bunting adorned the Square
The Major arriving  on time 
to officially meet with the Mayor.  

The Mayor announced to a large crowd, 
their patience beginning to wane
“ Now Derry Ayres Happy Bottom...”, 
“... is safe in the hands of A. Payne.”

The Major was warmly welcomed  
and though not a man of great wit
Hoped he wouldn’t be labeled
a grumpy and toffee nosed ... man.
He went with a posse of Dimpletons 
to see his idyllic new home
But found little more than a ruin
and its garden was all overgrown.

Hardly a rose covered cottage 
but what was the Major to do?
It would take a big helping of TLC
to make the place modern and new.

Thumbing through Dimple’s Directory, 
for a builder he hoped would be cheap
He made a good many enquiries 
but none to his budget could keep.

Finally, his searching proved fruitful 
and without any  further ado,
Closing his eyes and using a pin
he picked, from the list of a few: 

Wally & Son
Creative, Spectacular 
award winning designer
of  cheep houses.... 
No job too small............
Tel. Peckcorn 666999

He liked the idea of a ‘cheap’ house 
but not the fact Wally couldn't spell
Decided though, not to inform him
as he mightn't  take it too well. 

The Major considered his options, 
imagined the home of his dreams
But when he met Wally on site 
all was not as it seemed. 

Wally offered to send plans, 
drawings of what he could build
But the Major told him, ‘Don’t bother, 
I hear you’re the best in this field.’ 

The Major returned to the town, 
to prepare for his new way of life
And thinking of country cooking
considered the need for a wife.

Finally, the building was ready, 
the ‘cheep house’  admired by all
But the minute  the Major saw it 
his pride was in for a fall!

‘Well, do yeh like it?’ asked Wally,  
satisfied all was complete 
But the Major, boiling in blood 
thought words he dare not repeat. 

‘Like it?’  he thought. ‘Can’t live in it. 
Wouldn’t put a dog in it, that’s for sure
By golly, wouldn’t put a gran in it 
who’s been dead forty years or more.’ 

‘Anything wrong?’asked  Wally 
‘Noticed somethin’ I’ve missed?’
Major Payne inspected the building
and drew up the following list:

His house:

shed built on a pile of stone 
with no electric wires or phone
no pipes 
no plumbing 
no shower 
no bath
no warm fire with polished hearth.

kitchen? No
not a cupboard or drawer
no ceramic tiles to cover the floor
no standing room to clear his head
not even the  room to put a bed
shutters : no glass, just wouldn’t do
but worst of all - the outside loo.

Poor Major Payne was embarrassed
and as the crowd trampled his Bottom
Wally went back to his van
to collect the gift he'd forgotten.

Handing the Major a clucking sack, 
‘Two cheepies,’ he said with a grin
‘Cheep ... means ....  chicken’,  twigged the Major 
wanting a hole to crawl in. 

So humbled, to swallow his pride, 
he felt  a right nincompoop
when presented with ‘Roosters Folly’
a Wally designed  ... chicken coop! 

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Comments by other Members

Issy at 16:45 on 09 December 2009  Report this post
Oh! I like this. I love the way the strong rhythme is set up in the beginning lines of the stanzas especially the first two. This had me chuckling out loud.

What happened was that I expected that at the beginning of every stanza and was a bit disappointed when it wasn't quite right.

Not an easy rhythm to get right. Had another look at it.

Anthony Payne was a Major

Its not a straightforward one strong then light. How I pronounce Anthony it has three syllables, two strong ones: Ant and on and one light y. And it works superbly and confidently like that.

Payne is another strong one but was and a are light.

Major is two with the strong on the Maj and or as light.

I don't know how to show this on this website other than in words but the beat for me is coming out as:

strong strong light strong light light strong light

Love it.

Stanza two is the same. Brilliant.

Stanza three:

Ewe Bean Done Solicitors

How I read this line is

strong (Ewe)
strong (bean)
strong (Done)
could be light or strong - I get it different every time I read it (Sol)
again strong or light (ic)
light (i)
strong (tors)

So for me it changes. I wanted to pronounce Ewe (love the joke though) Ewie or Ewe'ave which would throw bean to a light and the first two syllables of solicitors where I was a bit indecisive before to light.

Now this is just how I pronounce it. Could well be that others commenting come up with differences.

Oddly, stanza 4, although it doesn't directly follow the rhythm set up in the first line of stanza 1 works for me. (there are three lights: om to be) I think it is getting the initial part of the stanza into two strongs, one light, one strong, seems to be the key.

The next day in his old Bently

Maybe delete The, starting at Next day would keep that strong rhythm

Major Payne studied at Oxford

I think we need that strong Anthony Payne again. Maybe ...was an Oxford man... would work

Sorry, seem to have taken over your poem.

It is the jaunty rhythm for me that is brilliant in most places that is singing in my head. Must have taken hours and hours of hard work to get that going. Loved it.

Joella at 19:22 on 09 December 2009  Report this post
Thank you, Issy. I don't quite have your technical understanding, but I see where you are coming from. Iappreciate the need for a strong start to a stanza and will look at it again. Regards, Joella.

James Graham at 17:02 on 12 December 2009  Report this post
Hi Joella - Just a few small changes, based entirely on whatever ‘ear’ I have for rhythm, and/ or because I feel the line can be better expressed.

He liked the idea of a ‘cheap’ house,
but FROWNED and thought, ‘WAlly can’t SPELL’.
Decided though, not to inform him,
as he mightn’t take it too well.

- The second line is now in anapestic metre: mostly weak-weak-STRONG x x / x x /

But the MAjor, his BLOOD on the BOIL

-same anapestic metre.

Not FIT for a DOG, that’s for SURE

Poor Major Payne was embarrassed
and while DIMpletons TRAMpled his BOTtom
Wally went back to his van
to collect the gift he’d forgotten.

‘CHEEP...means...CHICKen’, the MAjor TWIGGED

Apart from these, I can’t hear any other serious stumbles in the rhythm. It skips along nicely. To end on a frivolous note, maybe the solicitors could be ‘Yeo, Bean, Donne’. Isn’t ‘Yeo’ a West Country name? Then they’d all be real surnames, unfortunately (or appropriately?) combined into a firm of solicitors.



You mentioned commas. I don't think you need any at the ends of most lines, which are generally best left unpunctuated. A fast-moving comic tale in verse doesn't need to have the brakes put on by unnecessary punctuation.

Joella at 08:29 on 15 December 2009  Report this post
Thank you, James. I am extremely grateful for your help. I will make some amendments, as you suggest. Hopefully this one is finished now. Kind regards, Joella.

The Bar Stward at 13:38 on 21 December 2009  Report this post
Nice, I liked how this panned out, very merry, cheeky olde England feel to it. I no longer live in the city and I see many people moving into the Southwest like I did, and people really do look down on the country folk and they usually end up with egg on their faces. Most people come and take over pubs and believe they can run it better, me and my family was guilty of this, and many many after us, we see the lovely location and all and think its great, blinded by beauty I suppose, but the seasons are a killer and nowadays there are no seasons at all cos its pretty quiet all year round, well compared to what it used to be. Anyway, I thought this captured that spirit right on.

Joella at 23:25 on 21 December 2009  Report this post
Thank you, The Bar Stward, for taking the time to read and comment on my work. You've picked up on the main point of this story. The Major isn't really as clever and sophisticated as he thinks and certainly not superior in any way to those in the country. This comes out in successive poems, which are like chapters in a book. The illustrations also reveal a lot about his character too, of course. Regards, Joella.

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