Saturday, November 13, 2004

Going Down With Christopher Robin

Gail Armstrong in Open Brackets has quoted this well-known rhyme from A.A. Milne:

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
Alice is marrying one of the guard.
"A soldier’s life is terrible hard",

Says Alice.

This reminded me of a scurrilous subversion of Christopher Robin by Sir John Waller:

Golden-haired boy on the edge of the street
In his tight blue jeans on his lonely beat
Hush! Hush!
I'm rather afraid
Christopher Robin is looking for trade.

I once spent a drunken evening with this eccentric baronet after he tried to buy the tie I was wearing in a West End pub. We staggered from one private drinking club to another, the clubs becoming smaller and seedier as the evening wore on and at the top of increasingly lengthy flights of stairs. My main concerns were that I would either be crushed to death trying to half-carry Sir John up the stairs or that we would bump into the Kray brothers and that after a short spell as a sex slave I would end my days in a concrete overcoat under a motorway bridge.

I had no idea then that he wrote verse but perhaps the bawdy songs that he sang in the street were his own. We were accompanied by a younger man who could have been a toy boy but seemed more like a paid amanuensis whose role was to heave the portly baronet into a taxi when his behaviour put him in danger of arrest.
Possibly as divine retribution for messing with Milne's work, the gay Sir John could only inherit a substantial legacy if he married and fathered a child. He duly married a young journalist but I don't think even the thought of all those millions could stimulate him to do the deed. This much was in the papers but sadly I've no idea how the story ended. If he's still alive he would now be 87.

A far better known parody of Milne is Christopher Matthew's 'Now We Are Sixty' which was a bestseller a few years ago and contains the verse 'They're changing sex at Buckingham Palace....' Strange that the author of such charmingly innocent verse should be so susceptible to this kind of thing. The rhyme quoted at the top of this piece needs only one or two words changed to render it even too obscene for this blog. If this comes too easily to me it's because a backstage game was to change the words of songs in musicals. That's how I know an X-rated version of 'Send in the Clowns'.
You can play this game at home at Christmas. The children will love it.


At 3:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to say Sir John Waller died in January 1995 aged 77. His Times obituary (20 Feb 95) said his marriage had been brief and childless and his baronetcy was now extinct. It also mentioned his ‘closely written page-a-day diaries which, even after a night’s heavy drinking and lively party-going, he would meticulously fill in after knocking back a pint of milk’ and said they may be his ‘most endearing literary monument’. I wonder where they are, whether anyone is working on them, and whether you’re in them?

Congratulations on a blog I can envisage reading devoutly.

Rex (minor character in Naked Blog)

At 10:07 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

I'm enormously grateful to you for that information. It never kept me awake at night but occasionally I would wonder what happened to Sir John and couldn't find anything on Google.
Thanks too for your kind comment on the blog.

At 4:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to recall items in the press, circa 1975, that there WAS a child of the marriage, but as it was a daughter and could not inherit the baronetcy, Sir John was effectively back at square one. "The line must go on!" was his reputed comment. A friend of mine, very hot on women's rights, was particularly incensed on hearing about it.


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