|Geoff and Jules - Chapter 9|
Within a short time of our arrival in London I lost touch with Geoff, vanishing as we both did among the silent hurrying people. I found myself suddenly caught up and sent reeling off into the grey world of employment, money, work and responsibility. Gradually, however, I found my feet and began to enjoy the satisfactions of this strangely exciting city. There was a period of disorientation during which I felt sorry for those unfortunates obliged to live in the mews terraces of Knightsbridge, and I was disappointed that Piccadilly, Marble Arch, Leicester Square and the like were built on only a modest, human scale, when I had looked for something grander.
It was also disconcerting to find such a class-ridden society, but like others from abroad I found myself protected from its unwelcome effects by the possession of an unclassifiable accent. I could have been poor or wealthy, from a good school or a bad, from an old and respected family or of no particular breeding. The Englishman could not tell from the way I spoke, and this served to dissolve the barriers between the layers of society, enabling me to move about easily, free from the restrictions imposed upon the English by their background.
I had a comfortable place to live and a humdrum job, both curiously satisfying, since I needed a period of routine to soothe a slowly subsiding restlessness. I had met up with Mick, a friend from New Zealand, and we came to share a flat in Notting Hill Gate with Mike, an elegant Englishman, Nick, a morose Greek, and Jack another New Zealander, genial and good-hearted. This flat was in Pembridge Villas, immediately opposite the entrance to Portobello Road, and took up the first and second floors of the building, whose entrance, like most of the others in the street, had an imposing portico, the roof of which served as the floor of a first-storey balcony running off a huge sitting-room. This room, and the kitchen and bathroom, occupied all of the first floor, and from there stairs ran up to the bedrooms above. Beneath the roof there was a dark and dusty little attic connected with the bedroom landing by a ladder. Our only outlook from the sitting-room focussed on the entrance to Portobello Road and a pub called the Sun in Splendour, which guarded its approaches and figured prominently in our lives.
One morning while I was at work in a shop near Victoria Station, Geoff appeared, jaunty and irrepressible as ever. I had not seen him for many months. He had his rucksack on and was wearing a well worn windcheater over a grubby but vivid tartan shirt, and on his head he wore a digger’s hat, from which the entire brim had been cut away, leaving only the crown. The word PAKISTAN on a red cloth badge was sewn on the front, and beneath this, unaccountably, were the words, "I go by foot, yet I am riding on the back of an ox."
His appearance attracted some attention, the customers watching him in the English fashion, by appearing not to see him at all while examining him closely out of the corner of the eye.
"Jules! Jules!" he hissed loudly, adopting an overtly conspiratorial stance. "I’ve got the hashish for you!" He produced an untidy brown paper parcel from the inside of his windcheater, handing it across to me with a furtive flourish. People nearby lowered their heads and hurried off about their business.
He had just returned to London from a short trip to Italy and Germany, and the packet of ‘hashish’ in fact contained a litre drinking-mug he had considerately removed from a Munich beerhouse as a present for me. I invited him to sleep on the floor of our flat until he could find a place for himself, and there I found him when I returned home from work that evening.
When we first arrived in the city I had been pleased to see the back of him, for during six months on the road together we had become bound up with each other in all kinds of ways, from the food we ate to the money we shared. The very fact of being thrown together, saddled with each other and of being obliged to put up with each other’s irritating idiosyncrasies over such a long period had brought us, near the end, to a state of bare tolerance. At times this manifested itself on my part with a weary annoyance, and on Geoff’s with muttering and an occasional irascible outburst. So I was pleased to be free of him. Yet finally I had to admit to myself that alone I never would have undertaken such an uncertain, haphazard journey. And over the months in London I came to miss having him around. There was no disguising the fact that life was duller, and I missed those involved, free-flowing tales with the grimaces and leaps that enlivened the adventures of his unlikely characters. It was a long time since I had seen a group of people have their conversation arrested as he raised a declamatory finger, cleared his throat with a rasping "Aa-aa-aaaargh!" and launched into a lengthy and extravagant epic. I missed his raging and muttering about some fancied injustice. He had, in sort, been a sounding board for the absurd and fantastic, which he amplified, distorted and thrust back upon the world, marvellously embellished.
So here he was again. I asked him to stay. "You could move into the attic if you like." We climbed the ladder and made an inspection. "Pay us a couple of quid toward the rent and you can stay as long as you like."
It was an arrangement that strongly appealed to his thrifty nature. He shuffled forward and peered around at his new home. "That’s a deal, Jules!" he exclaimed, eyes shining. "That’s a bloody good deal!" The attic was thickly carpeted with dust and contained old lampshades, bicycles, perambulators, ancient electric stoves and a multitude of trunks, boxes, cases and other junk.
"It’s very cruddy," said Mick, who had climbed up after us. Neat in his dress and with a certain fastidious manner, he gazed about with tolerant distaste. Mick had an enviable capacity for perceiving absurdities in the most ordinary events, and these were always likely to provoke him to bursts of almost hysterical laughter. The thought of Geoff actually living there was nearly too much for him. He collapsed on the top step. Surely nobody in their right mind would live in a place like this. He giggled to himself and was soon helpless with laughter. I found Mick’s outbursts very infectious, and before long he and I were both convulsed.
"You’ve got to admit the place has got atmosphere," said Geoff defensively, puzzled at our laughter but smiling good-naturedly.
"Yes! Yes!" said Mick, wiping the tears from his eyes and trying to show a courteous enthusiasm. "It has. You could sit here and meditate!" He and I had been taking a philosophy lectures of late.
I picked up a dusty box of charcoal sticks. "You could make sketches on the roof, Geoff." The sloping roof was lined with white plaster and invited adornment.
"Hmmmmm. Yeah……" Geoff stared absently at the high, tiny window which let in a dim light through the dirty glass. "You know, Jules," he mused, " this place would have suited my old mate Barnesy. He would have liked it here." Barnesy, it seemed, was an ancient acquaintance of his who was given to addressing the strolling Sunday crowds in Sydney’s Domain. "Yeah, Barnesy always knew what he wanted, and a cheap doss like this was a good deal. No fuss. Always reckoned he’d end up dying in style. I remember him one day there holding forth to the people about all the churches being full of thieves and ratbags. And there was this voice come from the crowd, ‘What’ll you do when you die, Barnesy?’ ‘Well, I’ll tell yer. I won’t have none of them fancy funerals…..all yer mates standin’ round saying’, ‘‘E wuz a good bloke wuz Barnesy, ‘e wuz a good bloke.’’ No. An’ I won’t have none of them fancy physicians tappin’ me ‘eart ‘n sayin’, ‘‘E’s dead!’’ No, mate! I’ll do it native style. Take me up to the islands, I sez. Lay me out on one of them big bark leafs…………...real native style. Carry me down ter the beach wiv twelve bearers. There’s the surf thunderin’ in, deep blue water, white curlers. Long golden stretch o’ sand, azure sky an’ wavin’ palms. Very nice. Then bring two dozen native sheilas’ ----pause----‘wiv nuthin’ on. They dance around me for forty-five minutes, yer see, an’ if I don’t move – I’m dead.’
"Then there’s another voice from the crowd, ‘Any regrets, Barnesy?’ ‘Only that I’m an old man, mate, only that. Why, in my day we didn’t front up ter the sheilas an’ say, ‘Do yer want ter dance?’ Dance? Be buggered. We jus’ grabbed ‘em an’ said, ‘Do yer love me?’ ‘No.’ So we’d haul off an’ hit ‘em. ‘Now do yer love me?’ ‘Yeah.’ Y’see, mate, the best answer to a woman’s rights is a man’s lefts!"
Mick was delighted. It was the first time we had encountered Geoff and his tales and he was quite captivated.
"I’ll give you a hand to clean this place up," he said. Clearly he was keen that Geoff should stay with us. There emerged a certain cultural tone as we uncovered books in Russian and German, dealing with subjects from mysticism to mountaineering, and by authors as diverse as Lenin and Lin Yutang. There was a slightly warped violin in one corner and an easel under some dust-covered drapery. We stacked the junk in one corner, put a bed in another and swept the place out. It should not be denied, as we regarded the scene by the faint light of the single bulb, the place had character.
Geoff’s arrival heralded quite a change in the previously unruffled course of our lives. He acted as a catalyst, attracting all sort of erratic people and provoking all kinds of outrageous behaviour. Life began to centre around the pub across the road, and there were some memorable encounters with the neighbourhood eccentrics.
It was our custom on Thursdays to put three pounds each toward the provision of food for the week, which we would take in turns to buy. Since we invariably underestimated the amount required, by the following Sunday there was scarcely anything left in a larder which theoretically should not have been empty for another three days. So we took to hiding food secretively in odd places where we imagined it would remain safely concealed. It was not unusual to open the washing-machine and discover somebody’s sausages and eggs; or a packet of butter and a half-eaten loaf of bread might tumble out from the laundry cupboard. As a result, toward the end of the week we always seemed to be reduced to sausages, and reflecting on all this one evening on my way home from work, it occurred to me that I had eaten sausages on the last six evenings. Time for a change, I determined; I just could not stomach another sausage. Purchasing some lamb chops, I went home. "Geoff and Mick are over in the pub with Jack," said Nick, staring glumly at the television. "They were just going to have a beer before dinner."
I found them there, firmly entrenched. Geoff was haggling with a ragged art dealer over the price of a very bad painting he had no intention of buying. "Yes, yes, go ahead a cook the chops," they chorused. "We’ll be over after another pint."
The chops were duly cooked, together with peas and potatoes, but no Geoff, no Mick and no Jack. So Nick and I ate. Then I set up three plates on a tray and took them across to the pub. The lads were delighted and sat at a table by the door devouring the meal and intermittently welcoming the customers as they arrived.
An old lady came in with her daughter and a young man. "There!" said the old lady, turning to her daughter. "I knew you could get a meal here – and a good one at that!"
"Indeed you can, Madam," said Geoff, rising gallantly. "Sit down, make yourself comfortable – you are our welcome guest."
The old lady sat down and leaned across to Geoff. "Now, where’s Mort?" she asked.
"He’s over there," said Geoff with a vague wave of the hand.
"Behind the bar."
"I don’t see him," she complained, peering short-sightedly.
"Ah, now, wait a moment," said Geoff. "Which Mort do you want? Could it be Mort the Sport?"
"That’s the one."
"Ah, yes. Well, he’s in the corner there with Black Jack and Mick the Monk."
She gazed around, then picking up Geoff’s chop bone she began to munch it absently. "I knew he would be here," she said, satisfied. The daughter was horrified at her mother’s behaviour, and the young man’s lip curled in disgust. We had no difficulty in convincing the old lady that she should stay a while, and Geoff sang her some songs to cheer her. Before long the daughter and her young man had mellowed sufficiently to join in the jollity and we passed a riotous evening. Toward closing time Geoff happened to notice the young man’s shoes, which he considered very desirable. They had deep ripple soles.
"A man’d go well in shoes like that," he muttered. A complex deal was arranged whereby Geoff exchanged his shoes and a brown woollen pullover for the ripple-soled shoes, while the young man gave his pullover to our Jack, who was sorely in need. "These’ll be great shoes for bouncing in!" exclaimed Geoff, tentatively leaping up and down.
"Give them a good try, Geoff," said Mick, holding the pub door open. Geoff gave a great bound forward and away he went, leaping and bouncing along Pembridge Villas, bellowing with delight each time he touched the ground and badly frightening an embracing couple in a nearby doorway.
It was about this time that Jack decided to return to New Zealand, where he had been offered a partnership in a business. We called for a replacement. Several people answered our advertisement and came along to see us, amongst them another Jack, a great hulking young man, with a ready smile. ‘Fiji Jack’ we called him when we learned that he hailed from Fiji, or sometimes ‘Rampant Jack’, as he admitted to having been called from time to time. In many ways Jack looked a cowboy, and we learned without surprise that indeed he had been one before coming to London. Tiring of the tedious and mundane ways of the bank, Jack had left and gone to Australia to work as a jackeroo in Western Queensland. Later he rode as a gaucho on the Argentinean Pampas, and as a cowboy in Galveston, Texas. When we discovered that he worked at present as a roast-beef carver in the most prestigious of the Lyons Eating Houses, we decided at once that he was our man.
The previous evening we had been sitting quietly at home after drinking a few beers in the Sun in Splendour; Geoff was in the kitchen brewing coffee, having just cooked us a fine stew. Glancing through the window he noticed a girl waving from the rear window of a building across the way. "That’s friendly," he said, returning the greeting and calling us over. We gathered round and several more girls appeared around the waving figure.
"Very friendly!" said Mick, waving vigorously and beckoning. One thing led to another, and before long they were all distributed around our sitting-room. Just then a balding, middle-aged man in a crumpled suit arrived to inspect our flat. He had answered our advertisement for a replacement, and we asked him to call. Geoff answered the door and, with the girl who had done all the waving clinging to him, started to show the man about. They had got as far as the bedroom floor when the girl, who was wrapping herself sinuously around Geoff, began to peel off his shirt. Distracted by her attentions, Geoff excused himself from the wide-eyed man and thrust him into the sitting-room, expecting the rest of us to look after him. But there was Mick locked in a passionate embrace with a voluptuous, bespectacled girl called Hazel, while the rest of us sat about with the others. The little man’s eyes shone. This was the place for him!
"Splendid! Splendid!" he cried enthusiastically, rubbing his hands. "I think it will suit me very nicely. Just what I’ve been looking for!" He sat down and beamed around the room. It was two o’clock in the morning before we were able to persuade him to leave.
Geoff was recounting this episode next morning to a visiting friend and described the sinuously writhing girl as being ‘rather spidery’. This led to her being known from then on as the ‘Spidery Lady’.
Our custom of awarding such titles to people originated in the Sun in Splendour where, among other people, we had fallen in with a group whose central figure – Joyce – we called the ‘Comfortable Lady’. She was a broad-faced, cheerful girl who taught hockey, net-ball and geography at a nearby school and who shared a flat in Portobello Road with ‘Cruddy John’, an extremely debauched-looking man with pouched eyeballs who customarily drove a derelict, delicensed taxi and earned his living as a psychologist in a research department at London Hospital. One evening, on our way home from a party, we all trooped off to call on her at her flat. We were in good voice, having serenaded the taxi-driver with Negro spirituals all the way home. Standing on the pavement outside Joyce’s flat, we continued our serenading, calling upon the Lord to ‘open up dat do’’, while Geoff danced about keeping time with his fists beating upon that door. There was no response, so spying a ladder which led up to some scaffolding, Geoff clambered up to the sitting-room window some two floors above. It was not surprising that we had not been heard, since there was a wild and noisy party in progress within. Geoff banged on the window, and in a moment it opened and he was drawn inside. Darting down the stairs he let us in. The air was thick and hot and throbbed with the noise of music and shouted conversations. Geoff discovered Joyce asleep in a chair and awakened her with some gentle prodding. She opened an eye.
"Go away," she declared. "I’m comfortable." Indeed she was, and the name stuck.
Cruddy John produced some wine mad form turnips. It was sweet and turbid and of no value. He claimed a degree of excellence as a psychologist and proceeded to elaborate in tedious detail theories he held which would disprove some of the widely held ideas of the Gestalt psychologists. On and on he went while we became more and more glassy-eyed. Finally, Geoff could stand it no longer.
"Why don’t you do something useful with yourself?" he rounded on him. There was a lull in the conversation and his words resounded in the room. "Standing there with your thumb in your bum and your mind in neutral, you’re no bloody use to man or beast!" Cruddy John withdrew, insulted, and muttered at us from the other side of the room.
Their friends included a girl we dubbed the ‘Beady-eyed Lady’, a narrow-faced, plain looking young woman. She had an intense look and would fix a gimlet eye on Geoff with what she imagined to be an alluring expression. This caused Geoff to smile, and she would ask him what was so amusing. Taking her in his arms he would kiss her gently on the ear. "The universe, my sweet, the cosmos," he would say. "It is crazy!"
During this time Geoff was living his life on two levels other than the merry diversions of Pembridge Villas. He was still running, of course, and it was his custom to run to and from the surgery where he worked in Feltham, an outlying township gradually being swallowed by the grey, spreading growth of London. In this way he covered a distance each day of about sixteen miles, and very often, after an evening at home or in the pub, he would set out again late at night for Hyde Park where, under the still shapes of the trees on Rotten Row, he enjoyed running most of all. He was starting to run competitively again now, and joined the Middlesex Harriers for regular practice and training. He aimed to compete later in the London-to-Brighton and the Isle of Man marathons.
One night, out running very late near Marble Arch, he came upon an old lady struggling along the wet pavement with several canvas bundles tied with rope. As he ran on he remembered the cold, uncomfortable nights on the road when we had slept out. Sometimes they had not been too good. Wheeling around, he went back to her.
"Are you all right?"
"No. My church has thrown me out. I’ve got to go and sleep in the park."
"Well, now, look. You don’t have to do that. Get around to Fifty-five Pembridge Villas – that’s just round the corner from Notting Hill Gate Tube Station – and ask for Jules. He’ll see you right. He’ll give you a nice cup of tea and some porridge – and you can sleep on the couch."
"What’s that now? Pembridge Square?"
"No. Pembridge Villas. Our place is just opposite a pub called the Sun in Splendour."
"Oh. Who’s there?"
"A fellow called Jules. He’ll set you up all right, so don’t worry. Just ask for Jules. He’ll give you some porridge and a nice cup of tea. I’ll be back there in an hour or so." He ran on and thought about sleeping in the park in London when you’re old and tired.
Coming up the stairs and into the sitting-room later, he paused at the doorway as he always did and advanced into the room with his finger in the air, clearing his throat with the customary "Aa-aa-aaaaargh!" His running togs hung limply from his perspiring body, and the only evidence of athletic capacity was in his unusually large calf muscles. Mick and I were drinking a last cup of coffee before bed, and waited expectantly for his nightly utterance.
We rarely went to bed early, and whatever we had been doing, drinking in the pub, out at a show or just sitting at home, if Geoff had been out running we invariably still up when he got back. Always he had some splendid observation to make, something which had occurred to him as he ran, some small thing which had excited his interest, or the story of a chance meeting with a night-time eccentric.
"Where is she?" He peered around.
"Where’s who?" asked Mick, chuckling in anticipation of some absurdity.
"The old lady. I told her to come here."
"The Old Lady?" Mick laughed. "No. We’ve had Spidery Ladies and Comfortable Ladies, but no Old Ladies."
Geoff grinned. "Yeah. But look, she should be here by now. It’s over an hour since I saw her." And he told us how he had found her struggling off into the park and his suggestion that she come and stay in our flat.
Mick and I looked at each other and sighed. We had become used to Geoff’s finding lost or bemused souls and bringing them home. A week or so earlier a frightened-looking girl had come up to him in the pub and asked hesitantly if he had a threepenny stamp. He had, and gave it to her. Since she looked a little distraught, he followed her outside. She was quivering and tearful as she looked down the street. Geoff thought he saw someone skulking in the shadows several doors along, so without further ado brought her home. The next morning Mike, our elegant Englishman who was usually first up, ask Geoff who the figure was asleep on the sofa. "Oh," said Geoff casually, "that’s the Threepenny Stamp Lady."
"Well, the old lady hasn’t arrived, Geoff." Mick shrugged his shoulders. "She probably found somewhere else to go."
"Yeah. Maybe." Geoff stared into space for a minute. "I think I’ll go and look for her anyway." He turned and started down the stairs.
"Hang on, Geoff," I called. "We may as well go on the scooter."
It was old and dilapidated, the only independent transport we had, and it had been given to me by a Welshman who thought it past registering. We cruised along the neighbouring streets, but Geoff could see no sign of his old lady. Passing the Queensway Tube Station, shuttered for the night, Geoff pointed to a shapeless bundle on some steps.
"Pull up, Jules, and I’ll just have a look." He went over and bent down. It was the old lady and she was half dozing, with her head resting on her knees. He took her gently by the arm.
"I was only sitting there for a minute," she quavered uncertainly.
"Never mind, mum," said Geoff, bringing her over to the scooter. "I just want you to sit on the back there and hang on tight to Jules."
"O-o-o-oh!" she squeaked. "I couldn’t do that." Her old eyes went wide with fright. "Ee-ee-eeee! I’d fall off!"
"No you won’t. Just hang on tight." He placed her firmly on the seat behind me and we stacked her bundles between my feet. "I’ll run home, Jules. See you soon."
I set off slowly. The old lady let out a terrified wail, and her fingers clawed into my jacket. It was not a great distance, and I drove carefully, with the scooter very steady. Mick was still up when we arrived home.
"Hello there," he said calmly, as though we customarily entertained elderly ladies at midnight, and courteously assisted her up the stairs. Geoff arrived a few minutes later and in a short time had her sitting in front of a heater sipping a steaming mug of chocolate.
"Don’t you take any notice if Mick here tries to race you off to bed with him," said Geoff putting some blankets and a pillow on the sofa beside her. "He’s a terrible bloke for women, and you’ve just got to be firm with him."
The old lady cackled. She was warmer now and was beginning to relax. Her old eyes twinkled and she nudged Geoff. "’Ere. I bet you’re a bit of a one with the girls." Her false teeth gleamed as she grinned up at him. "Runnin’ about like that round the streets wiv hardly any clothes on in the middle of the night. Tut, tut!"
"Don’t you believe it, mum," said Geoff. "I’m a very religious man and I’ve taken a vow of chastity." The old lady had some colour in her cheeks, and she was giggling like a young girl when we went off to bed.
"Who’s that on the couch?" and Mike the next morning when he came down for breakfast.
"Oh, that’s the Elderly Lady," said Geoff blandly.
She wanted to go that morning, but Geoff insisted that she stay until she knew where she was going. In the meantime our language had improved miraculously and we were observing an unusual politeness with each other.
"Look, Jules," said Geoff seriously. "We can’t just chuck her out of here, you know. We’ve really got to find a place for her."
I was baffled. "But where on earth will we find a place? We can’t pay for rooms for her, or that sort of thing."
"Yeah…….Yeah……." he muttered. He took me aside when he came home that night. "I think I’ve found a deal," he said. "I was thinking about how the Sallies looked after us that Christmas in Calcutta, and I reckon they’re about the only Christians that do much for people. Anyway, I phoned them up today and told them about our old girl. Well, they’ve got a place over at West Kensington where she can have a room to herself. All we’ve got to do is get her over there before eight o’clock tonight."
He had bought some extra food to giver her a good send-off before taking her over. We had roast beef with gravy and potatoes and beans. The old lady devoured it with relish, and took her over to West Kensington in a taxi.
"Now you make sure you lock your door each night." Geoff wagged his finger at her as we said good-bye. "Some of those Salvation Army men are worse than Mick!"
On another level again, Geoff had a curious romance with a remote and mysterious girl called Ann. Ann was a student at Slade Art School, and none of us ever met her, since for vague, unstated reasons she would never agree to come to our flat. Geoff pursued her ardently, but for the most part she remained aloof and distant, allowing him to meet her only occasionally at uncertain times, when she would permit him to take her to an art exhibition or to the cinema. Not surprisingly their behaviour often caused Geoff agonies of despair, and he would go off pounding round and round his Hyde Park circuit, or sit unhappily in the pub muttering into his beer. Then when she sent him a letter and they were to meet, he would become elated and go pounding ecstatically round Hyde Park again or become expansive and full of preposterous stories in the pub. It was a strange courtship, largely carried on by letter, and sometimes weeks would go by and he would hear nothing from her. But he would write several times a week, and the letters, sometimes filled with endearments, more often pursued discussions about philosophic and religious points of some obscurity. He showed me her reply to one of these, which read:
‘You are right. The Bhagavad Gita is supremely magnificent and contains what Huxley calls ‘The Perennial Philosophy’, but for me it transcends a philosophy. I believe it was Kierkegaard who wrote that philosophers build fine palaces but are reduced to living in huts alongside them, while all the palaces are fit for is the gaze of men, including themselves. If he was right – and it seems a fairly true statement – then the Gita contains not a philosophy but It, which transcends rationalist thought in a truly Zen manner. It is the way, as Christ is also the way. The only way, for they preach the same gospel. Sri Krishna, Buddha, Christ – all are equivalent manifestations of what Taoists call the Nameless, because to give It a name is to place It within finite bounds. So I do not call it God.’
After such a letter he would climb up to his attic and spend hours feverishly penning a suitable reply. Often this would be met with a long and eloquent silence from the enigmatic Ann. After he had endured one such silence for over two weeks, he went out and obtained a beautiful rose, packed it in a long box and sent it off to her with the accompanying verse:
‘A man of aspiration had
Many friends who thought him mad.
He bashed his head against a wall,
Acting without sense at all.
Until at last they heard him moan,
‘This woman is a ???????? is a hoe
Suddenly he was aware
Of something that was never there.
The mystery of woman made explicit,
It seemed to him she was deficit.
But studies art and goes to College
But has no heart nor yet the knowledge
Of that which such a man requires
- Not the commonplace desires –
For far beyond the thrilling surge
Conditioned by the sexual urge,
And quieting all his worldly strife
He seeks the ecstasy of life.
Deep within us flows a river,
It belongs to life and not the liver.
Just now he suffers from a drought,
Distracted by despair and doubt.
River, river, flowing deep,
Stir me from this waking sleep.
This is his creed, his word, his prayer,
And he would live if she did care.’
That seemed to do the trick, and she replied the next day, agreeing to go to the theatre with him. He smiled a smug smile.