My sister Pat came to the south to visit me one time
She used to live up in the north in colder, wetter climes
Making jams and moulding candles with a special gel
She loved the isolation there; thought city life was hell.
Adolescent Nick, her son, came with her on the trip
they cast aside their country garb and dressed a bit more hip
What can you do to entertain a laid-back pair like this?
Every idea that came along one of them dismissed.
A walk along the river Thames did not motivate the duo
Nor the changing of the guards, nor an East End music show.
They rejected every thought we had; I started to despair
But finally they settled on a good old fashioned scare.
“London Dungeon is the place we really ought to be
If terror is the thrill you seek, with a dose of history.
But wake up early, do not dawdle, we really can’t be slow
We’ll need to catch the first train; we’ve a long long way to go”.
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men will often go awry
Particularly if you have a family like mine.
I do not wish to dwell too much on the holdups and delays
that caused us to be very late before we’d found our way
to the London city block where the dungeon is emplaced,
suffice to say I was not surprised to see the queue we faced.
We stood and pondered long and hard, “are we in or out?”
When suddenly, out of the blue, appeared a ghoulish tout.
He cleared his throat behind me, “ahem” I heard him say
“It’s likely you’ll be standing here, in this queue all day.
“They say these dungeons”, he continued, “are all occupied
by ghosts and spirits (good and bad) of all the ones who died.
One thousand years of bygone times are preserved down below
But London Bridge is older still, by a thousand years you know.”
“A special deal I have for you”, my eyes lit up with glee;
“Go to the bridge with this note admit six for the price of three.
You will not have to queue for long; no more than half an hour
Which means there will be time for tea after you’ve had your tour”.
So that is how it came to be that we took our absence
From The Dungeon to see instead, the London Bridge Experience.
The first ten minutes was a let down for our little little group
We were forced to stand and watch a video playing on a loop
of the history of the London Bridge and a spooky song,
over and over and over again, for far too flaming long.
Then at last, as I was wishing that we’d made a different choice
an actor appeared and welcomed us in his most theatric voice.
“My name is Brownlow”, the fellow told us, “welcome one and all.
If you’d be so kind, please follow me” – then vanished through the door.
So we left the first room as we’d found it for the next unwary group
and dutifully followed him in our little troupe.
We gathered on a stage set next, that was a library
and Adam volunteered himself to stand as Brownlow’s proxy.
The next set was a monastery with an angry monk ensconced,
who threatened one of us with death if we spoke again just once.
He said it like it was a joke but he clearly really meant it;
All the actors in that place seemed bored and discontented
I imagined what it must be like to do a job like that,
with no respite from the boredom, no time to have a chat.
The next stage was a better one; a real revelation
The actor shared his knowledge with flair and imagination.
“Welcome to Boudicca’s land, the queen of the Iceni
who challenged all of Rome’s great power, and claimed the lives of many.
“Where is Brownlow?”, the new guy asked, “will you please come here”.
So Adam, who’d been expecting it, said, “yes, that’s me – I am here!”
The next eight minutes spent with him were highly entertaining.
Young Brownlow was his mannequin; he gave him a sword to swing.
He adorned him with old clothes and jewels, explaining all the while
How they dressed themselves in Iceni days for comfort and for style.
But he held his best back till the last, his epic grand finale;
“There was”, he said, “an evil way to wound your enemy badly!”
He reached into his box of tricks and lifted out a shield.
“Made of oak and steel”, he said, “go on, have a feel!”
He handed it to his associate who weighed it on his arm,
acknowledging its sturdiness and just how it could do harm.
But then he took us by surprise, threw caution to the wind
He said to Brownlow (pointing at me) “go smash it in his shins!”
I have to say, in my defence, that you’d have done the same
if such an opportunity had also come your way.
Adam knew me well of course and I could read him like a book
He raised an eyebrow and I nodded – that was all it took.
He ran towards me, as instructed, with his shield raised high
Shouting as he came along, “Die you Roman, Die!”
He smashed that shield down on my leg and I felt not a thing
The actor completely unaware that my leg’s titanium.
I acted, though, like I’d been struck a gruesome crippling blow
The sickening thud of steel meets bone let everybody know
That an error had been made; a gross miscalculation
The actor’s face turned white, then puce, then deepest, darkest crimson.
“YOU IDIOT!” he yelled aghast, “YOU FLAMING, HALF-WIT FOOL!
“I’m sorry sir”, he said to me, “that really wasn’t cool”
He snatched the shield from the grinning lad who was trying his very best
not to laugh and spill the beans but the actor was very stressed.
He shouted at at him angrily, “I SIMPLY CAN’T CONCEIVE
THAT YOU COULD BE SO STUPID. THIS IS ONLY MAKE BELIEVE!”
Just after that our time was up our party shuffled out,
some of them were grinning broad whilst others were aghast.
I felt quite badly for the actor, the game we’d played was cruel
but knew it best to tell him that we’d played him for a fool.
So after everyone had left I showed him my prosthetic
“No harm was done”, I said to him, “it was a harmless trick”.
He looked at Adam then at me, he was clearly still distraught,
His face was quite expressionless processing his thoughts.
At last, when it had all sunk in and he knew he had been pranked
he jumped up angrily to his feet and, without a word of thanks,
Shouted to the world in general, as he turned on his heels to flee,
“Why on earth are things like this always happening to me?”