HOPE” was Jon’s choice of a theme for the JVG Radio Method this week, I found it to be in interesting ( and somewhat ironic) choice.

Click to hear today’s poem… [audio:JVG_Poem20080302.mp3]

Jon and I chatted about gardening, I tend to be more of the neglect school of gardening, if the grass grows high enough you can’t see it and the problem goes away. Jon spent this morning out in the sunshine, he is more of the “occasional gardener” school. Each to his own. We also discussed the positive effects of not reading a newspaper on one’s outlook, I haven’t managed to buy one this week. It’s sort of like the garden really.

This week Ed Bates was unavailable for slide guitar duties and in his place you have the accordion of Dave Evans in the background. Well done mate, thanks


“It was the war” they said “to end all wars” but that proved to be wishful thinking
While thousands headed off to the Western Front, William Gardiner was in the Albion drinking
“Flat feet”, he lamented, with a mournful sigh, “They’d never stand up to the marches”
Come the monthly dance at the old town hall, those feet rediscovered their arches

With the looks of a Fairbanks, eloquence of a Lawson, and the wit of a poor man’s Wilde
Many a girl, to her eternal regret, found herself more than beguiled
Allergic to work, self centred and vain, he enticed and discarded at will
He used his allure, like a spider it’s web, to snare, then move in for the kill

Barely twenty years old, Faith Allen lived alone, met Will at a Collingwood dance
Her mother had died when Faith was a child, her father blown to pieces in France
Her home, although modest, in a good part of Carlton, enough money for a comfortable life
Money and comfort William found most attractive, within months they were husband and wife

A god-fearing woman, daily to church, a ritual Will was happy to share
Until he had charge of the finances, when he saw no more reason for prayer
He’d long ago discarded religion and a measure of how he viewed his self worth
He said, “God can rule heaven, the devil run hell, but I’ll pull the strings here on earth”

Grace Davey was the daughter of a bookmaker and was known to be loose with her lips
William won her over with flattery, then pumped her for insider tips
One stroke of her neck, Grace sang like a bird, and those songs earned Will a good living
But he soon grew too greedy, attracting attention from some not known as forgiving

Her father, no fool, had seen Will’s type before and invited him in for a chat
He wasted no words, “It’s Grace or your health”, his polite way of chewing the fat
A low threshold for pain and the limited options robbed William of his customary charm
He had no hesitation breaking poor Grace’s heart if it stopped them breaking his arm

Prudence O’Mara pulled beers at the Nicholson, a shy girl, quiet as a mouse
But a few tender words and a beckoning smile bought William his drinks on the house
The pub threw a party to celebrate their engagement, but Will seemed unusually harried
With very good reason, as Pru soon discovered, her fianc‚ was already married

He begged for her silence, swore he’d explain, another of his devious capers
He claimed his wife moved, leaving no forward address, so she couldn’t be served with the papers
Afraid Prudence might talk, William cleared out, but not before clearing the till
Into the arms of the next love-struck pigeon, leaving Prudence to pick up the bill

William spied the actress, Hope de la Rue at the Tiv where she used to perform
Eyes, blue as the lake at Mt Gambier, hair red as a Nullarbor storm
Hope picked him at once as a cheap, petty hustler, his charms made no impression
Every night backstage with an armful of roses, his desire progressed to obsession

Not used to rejection, despairing and desperate, Hope wouldn’t let him come near
The aging Lothario, ego in tatters, his confidence gave way to fear
Friendless and haggard, he turned to the bottle, a pathetic and lonely old ham
Barred from the theatre, he’d walk along Collins, till one night he stepped in front of a tram

There were many lives lost in 1918, more selfless than this swindler and con
But William at least is a poignant reminder that even in war life goes on
A solitary notice in the “Argus” next day, sort neither to lament or malign
A man who’s sweet talking conquered thousands of hearts, reduced to little more than a line

“William Gardiner got by without Prudence or Grace, abandoned Faith and continued to thrive
But in the end he discovered one of life’s truths — without Hope Will can’t survive”

© Copyright 2008 Ian Bland

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