The professor gets plastered
for Colin Duckworth’s 75th birthday, in recognition of an errand of mercy undertaken for a fellow, reported from the perspective of the helpee
some time ago, I remember—
or more recent than that, I don’t know—
I had staggered off down to the Garrick
for young Gielgud’s memorial show.
were all sorts of thespian fellows
though I couldn’t make out what they said
(I wonder why Larry was absent—
we had to have John Mills instead).
always thought Mills over-rated,
I never quite got it somehow,
though I had a soft spot for young Hayley—
(I suppose she’s a pensioner now…).
the speeches and tributes droned onwards—
three times I found I was caught short—
one just seemed to run into another,
but at least there was plenty of port.
I stood up to leave it was tricky
well it’s true, I was pretty well skinned,
and the traffic in
when you’re several sheets to the wind.
stepped out, more in hope than in judgment—
I could swear that that lamppost had moved—
when I felt a strong hand on my shoulder
and I found that my balance improved.
I thought I was being accosted—
I was all set for making a fuss
when I just heard him muttering “Garrick”
so I knew he must be one of us…
asked me which way I was going,
I said “Hammersmith”, because I was
and he said (out of truth or from pity)
“so am I – let me help you across”.
could swear that he wasn’t quite English,
there was some, oh, colonial whiff,
and he’d rather more hair than was decent
and it almost brushed into a quiff…
he led me down into the subway
where we boarded the underground Line
and I sat with this fresh-faced Samaritan
who looked about…what, fifty-nine?
got off at Hammersmith Broadway
and he led me upstairs, carefully
where we hailed a red bus with the number
that would take me to where I should be.
course I fell quickly unconscious
and missed the right stop, as you do,
and it wasn’t till sometime next morning
I got back to my lodgings in
the whole thing has left an impression
from my dim memories of that night—
(I’m not sure about Michael Portillo*)
but young people today…they’re all right.
it’s true, I was once a professor
(though I can’t quite remember of what)
so I know about lifetimes of service
looking after a drunk, useless lot
if anything’s left that’s called justice—
if humanity’s not quite passť
that young chap from the Garrick who saved me—
they’ll make him a Professor one day.
*insert name here appropriate to context.