[Byron Society home page] [Event] [All events]


by Will Quakelance
A Jacobean playlet

(Bodleian Ms. 155873)

SCENE 1.-A blasted Quad. Thunder and lightning. Enter three Scouts.

First Scout. When shall we three meet again, In chunder, lightning, or in rain?
Sec. Scout. When the hoovering is done, And the Byron Soc. is on.
3rd Scout. That will be ere the end of term.
First Scout. Where`s the place?
Sec. Scout. Upon the Isis.
3rd Scout. There to meet with Macbreath.
First Scout. I come, Rigmortis!
Sec. Scout. Condom calls.
3rd Scout. Anon. All. Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Let`s naff off and wash our hair.

[Exeunt, cackling

SCENE 2.-A college garden. A fanfare of sackbuts. Enter King MacHenrie, with Lords McSchulzie, d`Oakleaf, Heringbone, O`Hooeey, McMellors and Harpness. Attendants fester humbly and obsequiously behind.

MacHen. This garden hath a pleasant scent; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.
d`Oak. Methinks my liege mistakes
Th`unsubtle whiff of McMellors` body balm
For Nature`s nostril-nudging niffs.
McMel. Indeed,
My lord, the scent in which my frame is swathed
Is of man`s artifice contrived. `Tis
"L`air du Postmodernisme", by Taureaumerde.
Harp. It doth assault my schnoz most greviously,
And seems to draw my late-munched lunch from forth
Its proper destiny, its peptic home,
And out into this fresh and pleasant place!

[Exeunt, throwing up.

O`Ho. I too am grasped by the heaving sickness,
But wonder rather if the fault should lie
With the haggis on which we lately dined;
I ne`er before chomped haggis that was pink!
d`Oak. Ay, it is the cause, it is the cause, my soul.
- Oh, sorry, wrong play!
McSch. Thou sheep-shagging crew!
Whoresons! Soft-bellies! Readers of "The Sun"!
Affairs of state have drawn us hither,
And thou but spoutest this digestive blether!
Hering. The Byron Blast, even as we witter,
Draws near: burning Phaeton`s diurnal round
Brings swifly close that revelry profound.
MacHen. Truth hast thou spok`n, but stop this rhyming crap;
Speak in pentametric iambs, or shut your trap.
Alack! `Tis catching as the pox! ...Go, bid
Th`attendants draw near.

[Enter two stewards, tardily.

Your ample belly, round as yon Radcliffe
Cupola, and near as massy, proclaims
You a steward of high estate. What viands
And liquors have you set aside against
Our Byronic punting plans?
Walt. Way-ay, my
Liege, luvey, we gotta luvely brace o`
Swans an` geese, three duzzen oxen on the
Rooast an` a fine pondlooad o` carp. As foar
The booze, petal, there be twenty creeeats
O` Newcastle Brown leeid aside,
An` nine hogsheads o` sack.
MacHen. And you, my man, whose snot and gravy-beslimed
Visage and greasy shock of greying tufts
Belies your vocation of servitude,
Will minister to us.
Malc. Ay, Danny, if
I can, for my goodly wife and me is
Expecting our seventeeth kid any
Time now. Also, what with United trying
To stay up and the snooker on the telly,
It might be a bit difficult, like.
Oh yeah, have you heard the one about the
Polack ballet dancer and Neil McKinnock...?
MacHen. I can make out none of this fool`s gibberings.
But wait, who approaches?

[Enter Macbreath, bloody but joyous.

Macb. Great tidings, my lord! We have overcome
The Balliol hordes, hard by St. John`s door!
MacHen. O wondrous day, that proud-eyed Mars should thus
Have smiled on us! From this time on shall thou
Be known as Macbreath, Thane of Loch Botley!
Away, then, to our Byronic punts;
May as much success attend your pole
As your sword. Remember our punting creed,
"Twist as you thrust - Parson`s Pleasure or bust!"

[Exeunt omnes.

SCENE 3.-The banks of the Isis. A leafy glade. The Scouts are squatting round a bubbling cauldron. One of their number is trying to light a Camping Gaz burner.

First Scout. Thrice the brinded toad hath grunted.
Sec. Scout. Thrice and once the field mouse crowed.
3rd Scout. Grover cries: `Tis time, `tis time.
First Scout. Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison`d entrails throw.
There`s College lunch, that in warm trough
For twenty-one days hath lain;
And if that still not be enough,
As "Today`s Special" comes it round again.
Sec. Scout. Giblets of cobra add to the brew;
Trinity serves it as "Irish Stew".
3rd Scout. Froth of madman, dangerous and bad;
It`s "Lemon Syllabub" to the undergrad.
First Scout. Infant`s snot, straight from the cradle,
Becomes "Tagliatelle" when served on High Table.
Sec. Scout. These She-goat`s droppings, rancid and high,
Are turned by the chef to "Steak `n` kidney pie".
3rd Scout. And bull frog`s goolies, if you please,
Are served in Hall as "Fresh garden peas".
All. Double, double toil and trouble;
If you eat in Trinity, your stomach will bubble.
3rd Scout. Ging gang gooly gooly gooly gooly, watchum sailor, ging gang goo, g....
The others. Shut up, Marcella!

[Enter Macbreath, carrying a Fortnum`s hamper.

Macb. How now, you secret, black and midnight bags!
Oh, hello Freda, hello Sue! How`s tricks?
First Scout. Macbreath, Thane of Loch Botley, hail!
Sec. Scout. Macbreath, Laird of Cowley, snow!
3rd Scout. Macbreath, King by your own hand, intermittent rain showers!
Macb. What mean you by this, you loathsome thingies?
All. Just what we said, dickbrain!
Macb. Aroint thee, ye whatsits of the night, ye thingummies of evil! Forth from my seeing, ye baggages of naughtiness!
All. Oh, what`s the bleedin` use!

[They trudge away, clutching their bus passes.

Macb. Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
Nay, `tis a stick of Blackpool rock, and as
Incorporeal as a noontide mist!
What means this portent? Wait! Through it is writ:
"Kill the King, you plonker". One moment more!
It grows and swells, like a camel in heat,
To a towering enormity, and turns
Into a punt pole! Aha, I have it now;
Such is the instrument of my destiny!
[The Scouts` voices are heard in the air. "The penny`s dropped at bloody last! Praise be to Hecate!"

[Enter all the lords, with a picnic in attendance. The party alights in punts severally and casts adrift.

O`Ho. See how the dazzling orb, with gentle might,
Gilds the waters with tracks of liquid fire,
And how each graceful beast rears up its head,
As if in worship.....Oh, shit, I forgot To bring the coke!
McSch. Prithee, brother, partake
Of mine; I kinda have too much. A bulrush,
Hollow of stem, should be a perfect tool.
McMel. Apropos perfect tools, whither is the King?
Harp. He follows close, in the royal punt.
d`Oak. The punt he sits in, like a burnish`d throne,
Burns on the water: the deck is beaten gold;
Purple the sails...Oops, sorry, wrong play again!
Hering. Pray you, friend, pass me three more roasted geese.
McSch. How is`t with you, my new-made Laird of Cowley?
Macb. Is`t e`en so? Truly, there is a tide
In the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood...
Oh, doggie plops, that one`s "Julie Caesar`s"!
[The Scouts` voices are heard in the air, "Macbreath shall never vanquished be until Great Bagley Wood does to dank Isis come."
Macb. This supernatural soliciting
At last resolves my course: Great Bagley Wood
Full six leagues distant lies; now must I strike,
Pole in hand, while MacHenrie unknowing dines!
[The royal punt draws nigh.
Ho, vassal, more claret hence! Oh, varlet,
Thou spillest more than pourest! Out, damned spot!
All the tinctures of Sketchley will not raise
This stain from the shmutter royal!
Macb. Nay, nor
All the men of Trinity keep thee safe
From the fell intent of my hoisted pole!
[Makes to strike the Kingwith his pole. Alarums, and frenzied cries of combat.
Harp. Alas, our lord is lost! But wait! See how
The Royal Sheep, by love inspired, rises up
At treacherous Macbreath!
d`Oak. She has him by
The throat,that valiant beast, and shakes him
To and fro, drawing from him his breath!
MacHen. My saviour, my love, my dearest Bagley Wood!
Macb. Bagley Wood! Then am I lost, quite ruined,
And all ambition, hope and fame o`erturned!
Goodbye! Adieu cruel world! So long! Toodle-oo!
[He expires, noisily.
Let Macbreath`s end be a lesson subtle but deep,
For behind each Merry Monarch there is a sheep.
Let each base plotter his stratagems cease,
Or he too may feel the pitiless fleece!
So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to partake of a scone.
Onward, to the Cherwell Boathouse, there with the Byronists to meet!

[Exeunt omnes, swilling, gorging and carousing.

(Manuscript unearthed by "Don Juan" Henrey).

May this glorious bs
stir the fire
within the poetical veins
of the ladies and gentlemen
of The Byron Society!