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Introduction to ‘Proceedings of the Byron Society, Vol. 2’

by Danny "Don Juan" Henrey and Chris "Childe Harold" Oakley

‘"Poetry in our time," as David Marriott used to say, "must conjur the effect of tickling the back of one’s throat with a feather," and I must say that by these lights, this collection must be accounted a success of the first order.’

My uncle took up the enamelled goblet that wobbled uncertainly on the back of the jewel-encrusted club tortoise and took another sip of the Clos de Bčze ’69. He exchanged his right leg for his left on the back of Marmion, the wine steward and head footstool. I peered out into the dark December rain that threw shimmering patterns of light across the broad street below and returned my gaze to the warm comfortable scene inside. In contrast to its austere neo-classical neighbours on Pall Mall, the Piers Gaveston was decorated with Rococo splendour, full of Burgundy plush, gilding and high mirrors—although the plush was well worn and strangely stained and torn in places, the gilding chipped and faded and the mirrors cracked and smoke-blackened. There was little money for renovation: the members had voted that their subscriptions were to go into the cellar, kitchen and supplies of a more dubious nature, which included a nurse whose responsibilities were not wholly medical.

As a cadet member, I was lucky to be sitting in Viscount Bottomley’s End, the inner sanctum of the club, where only the most senior members and their guests could venture. By any account, my uncle was held to be a senior member, or in the club’s terminology, a Grand Tool.

He picked nervously at his truffled tarantula. I had had to consider carefully before asking Uncle Porky’s opinion of the second O.U. Byron Society Proceedings. In his youth he had sat for the P. Bysshe Shelley Fellowship at Our Souls and, in a year of hot competition, failed. Other honours and achievements had come his way — for twenty years he had been the poetry manager for the London Underground, followed by ten more as a senior script editor for Neighbours — but that early disappointment had left its mark.

He kicked Marmion in an absent-minded way, who grunted appreciatively, ‘Thank-you, M’Lord Kingsbury.’

‘Take this fellow Hoey,’ he proceeded, ‘do you pay him by the word? If so, then he must surely be able to retire to a Pacific island of his choice.’ As he leafed disconsolately through the Shamen’s copious contributions, the volume dropped to the floor. Marmion, hastily retrieving it, offered it to my uncle again.

‘Well I’m afraid that there’s only one thing I can suggest. Get it serialised in Big Ones,’ he said. ‘But you’ll have to clean it up a bit.’

‘Uncle Porky, how could you?’ I exclaimed, taken aback. ‘This is an art form. The pieces here are the results of the noblest kind of intercourse with the muse of poesy! And you think that it’s only fit for a - a spank mag. No! I mean, how could you even -Oh I don’t know!’

But my uncle was now in a world of his own.

‘Globes,’ he muttered. ‘Big, soft, rounded globes. Globes! Oh god. Janet. Janet! Yes! Yes!’

Marmion, finding himself the unwilling target of my uncle’s passion on account of his proximity, extricated himself with the utmost dignity.

‘Corporal punishment?’ he enquired stiffly.

‘Corporal punishment for dirty little boys!’ expanded Uncle Porky enthusiastically.

‘Very well.’

‘I am afraid that you will have to go now, Kevin.’

As I tried to flag down a taxi outside in Pall Mall, I could just about make out the sound of regular whip-cracking and hoarse screaming. In fact, not all of the members of the Piers Gaveston were in favour of keeping a nurse on standby all of the time, especially as the main purpose of this seemed to be to minister to my uncle’s perverted desires. However, the club was still recovering from the shock of having a Grand Tool that was (at least most of the time), not gay (this had not happened for over a hundred years), and for some reason this seemed to give Uncle Porky considerable leeway.