Raymond StClair and the Blackheaded Gull (Doggerel #5)

This had its origins in an Authonomy Flash Poesy challenge. The original was 6 verses, but I felt that wasn’t enough to bring out Raymond’s story. Ideally, it’d be longer but I ran out of rhymes for the final couplet of each stanza. The photographic inspiration can be found below.

(incidentally, if you want to imagine this set to music, I think it’d work with this one by Robin Gibb, though I suspect he was happy enough with his own words)

The interface between anthropomorphism and Mancunian musical icons is further explored in my book

Raymond StClair is a peculiar bird,
A sombre exemplar of contentment deferred,
At the Annual Conference of everything Wiccan,
You won’t see this odd duck’s pulse start to quicken.
It’s a chance, you might think, to spread his wings,
And get up to all manner of unspeakable things,
Like anyone would. But he hasn’t the nerve,
A victim of his strangely British reserve,
He’s shy around birds, at times almost craven,
For such is the lot of the diffident raven

It’s that time once again, and he’s fleeing the nest,
With his mistress, the Wicked Witch Of The West,
He follows, like always, as she flies on her broom
Past the snarl up in Keynsham and the gridlock in Frome,
As they fly over to Whitby, in the cold and the rain
He wishes they were going to Provence or to Spain,
Or just about any seaside tourist haven,
But such is the lot of the diffident raven

By the bitter North Sea, where the old folk and goths,
Are drawn to the lights, just like candlebound moths,
Necromancers descend in the hordes each off-season
(the Vampire chic forms a compelling reason)
But for a certain unassuming crow,
It makes for a squalid, tawdry show
To see middle age witches and their cats misbehaving,
For such is the lot of the diffident raven

It’s a time to catch up with like-minded friends,
With a view to achieving nefarious ends,
But on reacquainting himself with the familiar crowd,
Ray finds them inane and insufferably loud,
And he’s not one for forging new social links
A wallflower to the caw over welcoming drinks
As he approaches a group, he feels his confidence cave in,
Such is the lot of the diffident raven

Fed up, he slips out from the conferencing hall,
For a solitary hop on the old harbour wall,
Growing weary of pretending to be something he’s not
He spies a vision of beauty on the mast of a yacht
And all of a sudden, his heart is full,
Smitten at the sight of a black-headed gull,
He’s eshewed feminine charm before, but now he’s a maven,
For such is the life of the diffident raven

He’s long craved the distraction of a casual tryst,
But he’s awfully shy and he’s never been kissed,
He approaches the gull and gets ready to speak,
But the words come up short and get stuck in his beak.
He’s about to fly back in shame to the sorcery fest
When she invites him to come back with her to her nest
In a tone that’s somewhere between sweet and depraving,
And such is the lot of the diffident raven

And thus it began, this flighty affair,
Between the black-headed gull and Raymond StClair,
While his mistress frequents her instructional talks,
Her crow joins his new love on romantic walks
He composes her poems in squawks, squeaks and squeals,
And takes her out to enjoy intimate meals
Of discarded chips from the esplanade paving
For such is the life of the diffident raven

Her gull friends don’t like him, citing as proof,
The fact that they find him taciturn and aloof,
But the gull simply tells them, that if only they tried,
They’d see, as she does, Raymond’s sensitive side
But they won’t be deterred from their prejudiced stance,
So she leaves then behind, with no second glance,
Preferring her love to the friendships she’s waiving,
For such is the lot of the diffident raven

And the witch doesn’t trouble to hide her dispair,
Says a crow and a gull make an unsuitable pair,
But she soon comes to learn there’s no magical trick,
Can dampen Ray’s ardour for his nautical chick,
And she comes to accept that she’s going to be stuck,
Sharing her house with the gull and her rook,
But she’ll put them to work, get them grafting and slaving,
For such is the lot of the diffident raven

But soon our Ray’s life takes a tern for the worse.
When the conference is over and it’s time to disperse,
He invites her back to his coven in The Forest of Dean,
But her answer’s as cruel as it is unforseen,
His love tells him she can’t think of anything sillier,
Than plying one’s trade as a witch’s familiar
And their love’s under threat, and in dire need of saving
For such is the lot of the diffident raven

She begs him to abandon his ghoulish career
For love, but he’s trembling and poleaxed by fear
She came into his life, and she upset the balance,
And he’s loathe now to let her slip out of his talons,
But serving his mistress is what he does best,
He’s not ready, he decides, yet for flying the nest
So he leaves her in Whitby, neither drowning nor waving,
For such is the lot of the diffident raven

A year passes by till it’s the conference again,
And Ray scours Whitby for his lover in vain.
He heads for the hotel, fakes a nonchalant shrug,
And spies a timid grey fledgling on the bow of a tug.
So he wasn’t forgotten when he fled to his coven.
He left his gull paramour with a bun in the oven.
And he rues the cowardly ways from last year when he gave in,
But such is the lot of the diffident raven.




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2 responses to “Raymond StClair and the Blackheaded Gull (Doggerel #5)

  1. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

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