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The Newstead Games

by Danny "Don Juan" Henrey

It is but little known that Lord Byron, upon approaching his twenty-first birthday on the 22nd January 1809, proclaimed a "Festivall of Games," to be held on his estate at Newstead, ostensibly to celebrate his majority, but in truth to weed out and scourge the new-fangill’d craze of Byronism, which had gained currency amongst the fashionable idlers of the nation’s youth. Here follows a poetical account of the aforesaid games by one Nathaniel Porkloin, an itinerant stonemason, who had been commissioned to fashion a Temple of Neptune and his wet-T-shirted Naiads at Newstead’s artificial lake, but who ended his days in the King George III Memorial Maddhouse in Mansfield, having been committed to the Notts Nutthouse (as it was then known) shortly after the events here described.

So now Lord B., to glad his crew, proclaims
By herald hawkers, high heroic games:
They summon all his race: an endless band
Pours forth, and leaves unpeopled half the land.
A motley mixture! In long wigs, in bags,
In silks, in crepes, in garters and in rags,
In morning-coat, with kinky boots and whip,
In joyful throng, they mince about and trip;
From drawing rooms, from colleges, from garrets,
On horse, on foot, in hacks, and gilded chariots —
All those who would themselves ‘Byronic’ be:
Noble, wally, drab, rogue and bourgeoisie.

High on a gorgeous seat, that far outshone
The monarch’s pew, or Crapper’s wat’ry throne,
Great Byron sat; a virgin to each side
Reposed, and ’fore his boots, with bristling hide,
A snarling bear with gleaming fangs exposed,
From which between, as pink as damask rose,
A hungry tongue did flick, and stomach growl’d
For flesh of sycophants, and flatt’rer’s jowl.

Now Byron spoke: the proud Parnassian sneer,
The conscious simper, and the rakish leer
Mix on his look: all eyes direct their rays
On him, and crowds turn coxcombs as they gaze.

‘Let’s not be coy, or Truth’s fair face appall —
In Life’s delights am I your Master all;
As moths to the flame, round and about you fly —
Chance not too close, or in the spark you die!
Yet is my warmth a close and ardent friend,
Should you my vigour manage to unbend;
And proof supply, you are not ironic
In laying claim to being Byronic.’

The first event, which Wenching was, begins,
And those most practis’d in the fleshly sins
Step forth: th’audacious Schulze is first in line,
Who on fresh virgins every eve did dine,
And thought well how he quite the biscuit took
In knowing when, and where, and how to hook
The gentlest maiden, soft in look and voice.
With urbane eye, he peers and makes his choice,
Adjusts his codpiece, fiddles with a glove,
And quoth, ‘You are my one and only true love.’
Alas, alack! The girl for which he longs
Hath he but the week past most sorely wrong’d:
Within this nurse’s heart there burns a fire
Far hotter yet than longing or desire.
Into his arms she canters swift along
And crimps his goolies with her steely tongs!

A hush fell ’pon those who their vigour rate;
Thus Oakley, who in his turn did patient wait
Renée-ges upon his chance to find a mate.

Next skill in Quaffing must by those be tried,
Of ample throat and stomach deep and wide.
Hector hath brew’d much Northmoor Brown and Pale,
At which all but the bravest shake and quail;
He hands the buckets round, where at the brim
Divers rats and roaches doe blithely swim;
Cohen quivers, his nostrils start to run,
And leaves th’intrepid tipplers to their fun;
Adam stands proud amongst th’imbibing men,
And Piers a bucket downs — his starter for ten,
Whilst George takes his share (the foolish wight,
Who knows well what he brew’d that cloudless night).
An hour or more the swillers plied their task —
’Mid glug and burp in glory did they bask:
In friendlie ring they pass the troughs around,
And link their arms in bonhomie profound:
Yet, fast and sure, a sea-change takes its place,
And men new beauty find in manly face.
Thus Adam blows a kiss at Piers and G.,
Who each bend down and flash a saucy knee;
What next befell I shudder to record;
’Twould be a backward act, to name the word…
And Byron look’d intent, his dark eyes set,
And cried, ‘This is the most Byronic yet!’

Yet fem’nine giggles wreathe the tableaux round,
For in helpless mirth are the women bound:
To see the clownish antics of their beaux —
‘More style have we,’ quoth they, ‘in each small toe!’
A trumpet high their merriment cuts short;
The highest game’s announced, of the Rhyming sort:
From each fair lady’s lips sweet verse pours forth,
And wights draw near, from East, West, South and North;
Thus from Heather, Deirdre, Dee, Fiona too,
Suzanne and Susan, a verse symphony grew;
Their gentle song the noontide air perfumes,
And lifts the mists of misery and gloom;
The very breeze in languor seem’d to sigh,
And Byron’s bear with feeling ’gan to cry;
The golden orb its warming rays unfolds
Alike poor beast and man with threads of gold.
On subtil wings the god of pleasure flew,
And all about grew beautiful and new —
About the crowds the smiling god did range,
Who listen’d rapt to wondrous myths and strange.
Thus schoolgirl’s yarns in epic form were told,
Concerning gym slips, and the master bold
Who stole into a dorm. with purpose lewd,
And was captur’d, truss’d, season’d and barbecued;
And of the secret lust and ravishing
That creeps on tiptoe through libraries calm,
And of strange patents that infernal pleasure do
To types with more than one loose screw,
And of foul deeds all in the name of ‘play’
That au pairs do, when parents are away;
And of the virus that one day shall come
To haunt those of the worship of the bum.

But discord upon the chorus breaks,
As rattling snores traverse the Newstead lake:
It is R. Todd, not one to miss or fudge
His thorough prep to be a High Court Judge;
The men are rous’d, that formerly were missed
(Except, that is, where lie they supine pissed),
And join the lyric fray: thus Oakley floods
The fem’nine chant with odes of vice and blood,
And tells of love that dare not speak its name —
The ovine sort, where sheep are not to blame,
Of which as High Priest he did have his share,
His victims left cold, sheared, shagged, shocked and bare!
His mind rebels at last, and quits the scene,
And Madness takes the throne as reigning Quean;
Chris babbles on, his marbles all dropt out,
Of Perseus, of Heisenberg and stout,
Of fractals, fleece, of Planck and matrices.
He mutters low, and falls upon his knees,
Whence white-coates bind his ankles to his arms,
And haul him fleetly to the funny farm.

Now Hoey sees his chance to grasp the crown,
To seize Lord B.’s regard, and win renown:
As poet was he puissant, fertile and smooth —
The mighty line from his swift quill did ooze.
Yet to the Dark One gave he this black oath:
‘My Lord, to thee I plight this solemn troth,
That I thy faithful servant shall remain,
If with fair words you feed my toiling brain —
Soft and copious may my offerings flow,
Not rudely swift, nor petulantly slow. ’
As Steve commences ’pon his epic way,
The Dark One in his lair of foul decay
Rais’d up the spirits from their putrid beds:
Drivel, who to Verbosity was wed,
Rose up the first, with Prattle at his heels;
Next Verbiage, her mouth alive with eels
Walk’d hoof in fin with Gush and Flatulence,
(The latter swell’d with gas and corpulence).
Seated ’bove them all, telling mystic runes,
Bath’d Logorrhea in a vat of prunes.

An apprehension drear flows through the crowd —
They fear his effort cannot be allowed;
Alas, and well-a-day, it was in vain!
His bowels’ thunder crashes ’pon the plain;
Sustain’d by ordure’s sympathetic force,
Oil’d with magic juices from the spirits coarse,
Vig’rous Steve drools; from th’effluvia strong
Imbibes new life and scours and stinks along!
And ’mid this ghastly slime, admix’d far worse,
The toxic verse of Henrey, the accursed
Was heard in the land; as if with marsh gas chok’d,
The crowd is struck, and on the spot they croak’d!
All but Lord B., whose bear with furious growl
Attacks the poetasters two, who howl
In agonies sublime! Their souls depart,
Where such as they in Hades’ gloom do fart,
So that the innocent, free from all care
May breathe in peace the pure and gentle air,
And romp the verdant ’sward, and plash in brook
Unharried; else conjoin in lovesome nook,
In bowers deep … where L.B. them awaits:
For none may ’scape his pow’r, like as the Fates —
In pleasure’s demesne, he attends you at the gates.