McDade Trophy First Place
I’m losing track of the times you’ve been
to study the Perpendicular screen
at quaint little Dunchidoke.
So I followed you down, as I’d secretly planned,
and now I’m beginning to understand,
for here you sit with the country folk
at the Nobody Inn, and I hope you choke
on your Winterman slims and your peppermint crush;
no wonder you fidget, no wonder you blush,
and shuffle about on your bar-stool perch,
for you never went anywhere near the church
at quaint little Dunchidoke.
And unless I’m mistaken, the tower I saw
when I glanced just now through the open door,
is elegant Doddiscombsleigh.
Famed for its fourteenth century glass,
which you’ll hardly match and you can’t surpass
in a British church, you keep telling me,
to excuse your visits, but now I see
that to learn its mystery your only hope
is a seat by the door and a telescope
on elegant Doddiscombsleigh.
Your subterfuge was a tour de force,
so I’m not in the least annoyed of course,
but in future, I’m coming too.
From humble churches we’ll shift our sights
to collegiate, cathedral and abbey heights,
but chosen to be, as your favourites are,
at their most impressive when viewed from afar,
or merely imagined, like Dunchidoke,
(assisted, it seems, by Bacardi and coke,
pommes frites in the basket and café noir,
with yellow Chartreuse and cigars from the bar.)
But I think that a four star (or five) accolade
would more properly fit with the status and grade
of cathedrals and abbeys, I know quite a few
with a splendid cuisine and an excellent view.
You’re flushed with excitement already, I see,
let’s map out tomorrow’s itinerary,
and I’ll show you what I can do.
Exeter – what better place to start,
splendidly Dec in its greater part,
as I think your Pevsner says.
We’ll start at two, for conveniently,
the Clarence Hotel does an afternoon tea
which lasts all day till aperitif time,
when we’ll sit in the bar with a gin and lime
and study the close with a reverent gaze,
admiring the Tudor and Georgian bays,
the iron bridge and the cobbled court,
unaltered in any material sort
since early Victorian days.
We’ll stay for dinner and when that’s done,
with coffee and cognac we’ll watch the sun
dipping below the trees,
and silhouetting the Norman towers –
we’ll order more cognac and sit for hours.
In plush red velvet we’ll take our ease
overlooking the close for as long as we please.
And perhaps we’ll book a room and stay,
and with morning tea at the break of day,
we’ll lie in bed with the curtain raised …
Are you feeling well? Your eyes have glazed,
and your colour has passed through red and green
and finished a sort of ultramarine –
of the kind you find on twenty pound notes.
Better pay the bill while I fetch our coats,
and we’ll get away from the fumes and smoke
and take a stroll down to Dunchidoke.
A hazy sun and a healthy breeze
will clear your head, but one moment please –
I think I could manage before we go,
a gin and Italian, Blackforest gateau,
and a little more Camembert cheese.