NOSTALGIA - NOW THREEPENCE OFF - William Ernest Henley Poems


Poems » william ernest henley » nostalgia now threepence off

    Where are they now, the heroes of furry-paged books and comics
brighter than life which packed my inklined desk in days when BOP meant
Boys' Own Paper, where are they anyway?
    Where is Percy F. Westerman? Where are H. L. Gee and Arthur Mee?
Where is Edgar Rice (the Warlord of Mars) Burroughs, the Bumper Fun Book
and the Wag's Handbook? Where is the Wonder Book of Reptiles? Where the
hell is the Boy's Book of Bacteriological Warfare?
    Where are the Beacon Readers? Did Ro-ver, that tireless hound,
devour his mon-o-syll-ab-ic-all-y correct family? Did Little Black Sambo
and Epaminondas dig the last sit-in?
    Did Peter Rabbit get his when myxomatosis came round the second
time, did the Flopsy Bunnies stiffen to a standstill, grow bug-eyed,
fly-covered and then disintegrate?
    Where is G. A. Henty and his historical lads - Wolfgang the Hittite,
Armpit the Young Viking, Cyril who lived in Sodom? Where are their
uncorrupted bodies and Empire-building brains, England needs them, the
Sunday Times says so.
    There is news from the Strewelpeter mob. Johnny-Head-In-Air spends
his days reporting flying saucers, the telephone receiver never cools
from the heat of his hand. Little Harriet, who played with matches,
still burns, but not with fire. The Scissorman is everywhere.
    Babar the Elephant turned the jungle into a garden city. But things
went wrong. John and Susan, Titty and Roger, became unaccountably afraid
of water, sold their dinghies, all married each other, live in a
bombed-out cinema on surgical spirits and weeds of all kinds.
    Snow White was in the News of the World - Virgin Lived With Seven
Midgets, Court Told. And in the psychiatric ward an old woman dribbles
as she mumbles about a family of human bears, they ate porridge, yes
Miss Goldilocks of course they did.
    Hans Brinker vainly whirled his silver skates around his head as the
jackboots of Emil and the Detectives invaded his Resistance Cellar.
    Some failed. Desperate Dan and Meddlesome Matty and Strang the
Terrible and Korky the Cat killed themselves with free gifts in a back
room at the Peter Pan Club because they were impotent, like us. Their
audiences, the senile Chums of Red Circle School, still wearing for
reasons of loyalty and lust the tatters of their uniforms, voted that
exhibition a super wheeze.
    Some succeeded. Tom Sawyer's heart has cooled, his ingenuity flowers
at Cape Canaveral.
    But they are all trodden on, the old familiar faces, so at the
rising of the sun and the going down of the ditto I remember I remember
the house where I was taught to play up play up and play the game though
nobody told me what the game was, but we know now, don't we, we know
what the game is, but lives of great men all remind us we can make our
lives sublime and departing leave behind us arseprints on the sands of
time, but the tide's come up, the castles are washed down, where are
they now, where are they, where are the deep shelters? There are no deep
shelters. Biggles may drop it, Worrals of the Wraf may press the button.
So, Billy and Bessie Bunter, prepare for the last and cosmic Yarooh and
throw away the Man-Tan. The sky will soon be full of suns.