Augustus. I know you only too well.
You’re heavy going when something’s bugging you.
And are too proud to speak out. You’re waiting
for the other party to pick it up.
Waiting for St Glinglin Day, or for the cows
to come home. But I know how to rustle them.
You may not thank me but it stops you
doing what you ought to be sorry for.
In this case jumping to conclusions
in order to take the high moral ground
with me. I read the damn thing. Every word.
And even liked some of it.
if you like about your hero’s penchant
for testing his friends powers of telepathy.
He expects them to be able to read
his mind. Though he doesn’t know his own. And when
they fail he denounces them about something else.
Your hero, who resembles you, has deep
insights into others but doesn’t know himself.
It is a comedy of empeiria.
which according to Goethe’s Eckermann
means unilateral misunderstanding.
See, I read everything. Even the notes.
Welsh, I bow to your superior knowledge
of my life and work. I love how you lick
your contaminated fingers clean and wave
them around like pennants during a parley .
You do like to keep your nails immaculate.
Giving them more attention than your brushes.
The head down always gouging out the grit.
When last did you look anyone in the eye,
particularly your own. You can’t face yourself.
That crimbly leery look. So with a flourish
you distract the world from its horror. See,
no hands! And we all admire the talons.
Never trust an artist with clean hands, I say.
When last did you see yourself in a mirror?
Those beady eyes, one smaller than the other.
Or clean pipe dottle from under your nails.
Or face the fact of your literary failure.
(‘I’m a failed writer. But my writing hasn’t failed’).
Or say something nice to me. You’re a cruel
bastard sometimes and a purblind one too.
Just look at yourself and then at me,
and you’ll see two old men with nothing
to write home about. We’re a sorry pair.
I’m not saying, Welsh, I’m any better
than you. Or that it’s the other way round.
But I admit I could be envious.
You at least have a wild life behind you.
And mine has been a closet comedy
of false stops and starts. But we have both reached
the same dead-end. Lifelong dedicatee
to higher things laid way by reality.
Sixty year old writers and artists who
nobody has heard of. Save those in earshot.
Yes, we’re a sorry pair.
Wasps posing as bees.
And the sting is killing us. So be it
What you are and I’m is open to question.
A rhetorical one. Let’s leave it at that.
D’accord, mon vieux. It doesn’t become us
when we shout at one another. What’s more
it scares off clients and I’ve a living
C’est vrai. But my work suffers too.
I’ll be too nervous to touch the keys.
I’ll pace around the port freting myself
at having hurt my sole, pis-aller, friend.
Though he deserves it.
I’m happy to share
the blame if that cancels it out. I too
got myself out of role, and with less excuse.
You’re an amateur.
In my acting days
I listened to those that played with me,
often knowing their lines better than my own.
I’m ashamed to say today I betrayed
my billing as a character actor
putting myself in the part of the straight man
to your barnstorming cameo. Burgess
Meredith meets Edmund Kean on a bad night.
Being the pro you should have carried me.
But I’m sympathetic towards thesbians.
They have to pretend for if their true self
is revealed they would get into trouble.
‘You’re only slightly less than wonderful’
yourself. A waspish fellow posing
as the bees knees. You don’t gather pollen
to make honey but go straight for the pot.
Hoisted on your own petard, you defend
yourself by suicide attacks. Mais, pour moi,
there is no terror in your sting
for I am armed so strong in honesty
the gendarmes pass me by as the idle wind
which I respect not. But they respect me.
Who I know only too well.
And make allowances.
I wouldn’t endure
all this carping at my character, distrust
of my integrity, only I know
it’s Augustus speaks and he always says
more than he wants to. And regrets it.
I don’t like your faults anymore than my own.
I’m weary of the world. Hated by everybody.
Checked like a bondsman. All his faults observed
set in a notebook, learned and conned by rote
to cast in my teeth. O I could weep
the spirit from my eyes. There is my arse.
Kick it if it makes you feel better.
Pull your trousers up again. Be angry
when you will and it shall have scope.
(By the way I think we have reversed roles.
I’m supposed to be Cassius. Tant pis).
When I spoke I was ill-tempered too.
Give me your hand. I don’t like touching men
but I will make an exception for you.
Give me your hand and your heart too.
What’s the matter? You’ve gone all wobbly. What
you need is a trolley disc for SuperU.
Here, be my guest.
It’s my mother.
She had a terrible temper too but meant well.
Was always sorry for it. Yours’ on the other hand
did the dirties without blinking an eye.
Died on you before the umbilical
was cut, let alone the apron strings.
It’s amazing you’re functional at all.
Leave my mother out of it.
Even your Step mother?
Leave her out of it too. She did what she had to.
The old cow. I am the only person that can
Remember, nobody’s perfect.
And I’m nobody….
(Exit Augustus with his legs between his tail)
1. Fats Waller
2. Cole Porter
3. Cole Porter
4. Hoagy Carmichael