Raising the Fair Lady Rhiannon

In recent times I read the Wife of Bath

and led myself down this ambitious path.

To tell a tale that has a simple aim,

And in so doing earn myself the name

Of fool, perhaps, but pray I do not fail

In telling you my cautionary tale,

 

It seems that Mediaeval mothers

Faced not the same trials as modern others

In raising their daughters to womanhood,

Ensuring they stay both wholesome and good.

Chaucer penned in a more innocent age.

Bawdy perhaps, but with nought to presage

The problems I face in raising this child,

Allow her to flower, but not grow wild.

Both fair of face and figure, comely grown.

Fully accessorised: cellular phone,

A balconette bra, a decollete gown.

Ready and willing to crimson the town.

If some odd twist in time and fate befell

Good Geoffrey, what a different tale I’d tell.

Of drunken parties, alcopops and port.

Speak not of ecstasy ­– of any sort!

I can but pray for her immortal soul

And leave grim warning, “Just the rock and roll!”

 

There’s a tale I should much like to narrate

Of a teenage bash that ended quite late,

And where I, her mum, had clearly foresworn

To collect her from the party’s front lawn.

Close to midnight, I left for the address

and rang ahead to advise my progress.

Imagine if you will my shock and fear

To hear a voice vulgar, harsh to my ear.

“’ello! Is anyone there? A? Hoozat?

Muss be one of ‘er mates muckin abaht.”

“Thou art not my fair lady Rhiannon!

Where stands she now? Bring her to me anon.”

“Ere, Rhi! Quick! Your muvva’s on the blower.”

“Why you uncouth youth. Bring me my flower!”

The sound of running footsteps – on the street?

Where does she think that we’re supposed to meet?

“Hello Mum. Where are you? Are you far?”

“I’ve just set out, I’m sitting in the car.

But where are you at this late late hour?”

You can tell by now I was feeling sour.

“We’re walking with Christie to her abode.

“Let’s meet at the crossing on the main road.”

And the signal was gone. Up went my fears.

I drove like a demon, raced through the gears.

There are just twelve short miles that separate

My home from where my daughter stood with fate.

Seven sets of traffic lights in between

And needless to say not one of them green.

What horrors might befall my dear sweet child?

How will I find her? Battered and defiled?

She could be lying in a ditch –  and dead!

The terrible thoughts that swam through my head.

And there she stood by the road with a friend

To feign unconcern I could not pretend.

The skirts that they wore scarce hid their behinds.

Mothers and daughters are not of like minds

On appropriate attire late at night.

Well, I ask you good people, am I right?

While there might be no impropriety,

We live in a dang’rous society

In which wild-eyed mini-cab drivers lurk.

And whatever they’re seeking, it’s not work!

A pervert in each doorway stands concealed.

From behind each mac, you know what’s revealed.

 

She’s grown no wiser three years later on.

She’s been the victim of a clever con.

Rhiannon found she has been much deceived

By a young man whose tale she had believed.

With honeyed words and sweet beguiling charm

This bastard sought to do my baby harm.

“My friend has a cheque, but no bank account

Could he use yours, he’ll share a small amount.”

And here Rhiannon learned a lesson hard.

She handed to his friend her debit card.

Wait! The story grows even better yet

Three days later on, she’s three grand in debt

 

My friends, for listening I give thee thank

Beware your friends and trust not your bank

[640 words] The events in the poem are true! I wrote the poem a few months ago, but changed the ending in the light of what had transpired in the last week. It wasn’t particularly difficult committing the poem to memory because the style of the poem lends itself readily to speech. I really didn’t want to use my notes for this speech and put them on the lectern behind me. However, I had to refer to them twice: I had a total memory loss at the “Chaucer penned in a more innocent age…” and had to refer to my notes to kick start me again. I also referred to my notes for the last two lines as I wrote them just five minutes before delivery.

I really enjoyed delivering this speech and want to do it again. It seems such a waste to write and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse to deliver a speech just once.

Guests and Club Members' Comments

"Loved the moment you said how worried you’d been. Good rhythm too – really enjoyed it."

“Wow – very impressed with your literary skills. Couldn’t always catch your words up the back.”

“A fantastic achievement of excellent vocal variety. Only recommendation – you could project your voice more strongly!”

“Clever poem, very good indeed. Perhaps its okay to have notes for a poem.”

“An unusual twist on a theme with a good plot and ending.”

“Wow!! Brilliant. You really know how to listen (inside). Very clever and funny.”

“Fabulous! So entertaining, creative – such a contrast in style to your last speech (which was equally enjoyable). You show true flexibility. What’s next? I can’t wait to find out.”

“Such a clever idea! Very good style and composition. Recommendation: your eye contact and gestures were very good. Would have benefited from the total loss of notes. I’ve always thought your vocal variety was well developed.”

“A speech such as yours, the like of which this club has never seen! Well done! Well-crafted verse, delightfully told. Impressed I was greatly so. One of the best narrations I have ever heard!”

“Although nervous to create a poem from recent events, was EXCELLENT!!”

“Very well prepared. Take your hand out of your pocket. A bit too much movement. Good eye contact – voice projection.”

“Amazing speech very well delivered and thespian [##]. Congratulations.”

"Very well prepared. Take your hand out of your pocket. A bit too much movement. Good eye contact and voice projection."

“Great acting ability coming through. And well remembered. Don’t worry about using notes. After you got into it, your body language and different use of accents was great!

“Thank you very much for writing the speech, much enjoyed.  Please e-mail/snail mail me a copy as I would like to share with family. Well done."

“Really well done on your speech last night - very impressive and entertaining, well done!”

Addendum

As I said, it seems a waste to write and rehearse only to deliver a speech once, and in July 2002, I redelivered this speech in my club's "Speech Idol's" competition. My delivery was much better, but I still stumbled at exactly the same place. I was so cross with myself, though everyone said nobody would have noticed if I hadn't drawn attention to it.