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The Ballad Of A.D.S ©

(A great love of my life is amateur dramatics, which I've long enjoyed, and in various Societies. It occurred to me that some people enter drama groups for reasons not fully compatible with a selfless desire to entertain a theatre-going public. This poem was written to honour all those seekers of vain-glory. For anyone not connected with the world of amateur dramatics, no explanation of the lines written below is possible; for those who are connected with amateur dramatics, no explanation is necessary. A.D.S is the generic name for just such an imaginary Society. As the saying goes: If the cap fits...)

Gordon Fjaelberg
Bridgend, Wales
1993

There's a certain half-crazed fellow
To the South of Khatmandu
Whose history you'd never start to guess.
His teeth have all turned yellow
From indulgence in home-brew,
Perchance you think: This man's a real mess!
With his eyes all glazed and hollow
He exists on Irish Stew;
What tragedy had caused such great distress?
No, please don't in pity wallow,
Because that would never do -
This wretch, you see, was once in A.D.S.

Now this hero - Tom! - at one time
Had enjoyed a healthy state,
And thought he ever would remain that way;
The world Tom's oyster, youthful pride
And a back so ramrod straight -
Yet even hero's dreams can turn to clay.
Tom read for every part, his fame
And his talent both divine,
So leading roles would tend to come his way.
The start of his sad down-fall came
When informed: "You'll be just fine
Stage-managing for this year's Ayckbourne play."

Tom's eyes rolled round inside his head
While his knees they both went weak;
He pondered on this thing he'd just been told.
"Stage-managing? I'm good as dead!"
Then he quite refused to speak,
Convinced a great career now would fold.
Then slowly, Tom began to heed
Maybe life was NOT so bleak,
His talents wouldn't fade if put on "Hold!"
And though he never got the lead,
(Which was certainly a cheek)
The play could safely rest in his control.

Alas, the ways of cruel life
Never let Tom's hopes succeed,
For opening night proved one colossal dud.
In every form and manner, strife,
(And a strife Tom didn't need)
Engulfed that fateful evening like a flood.
The curtain stuck, and from this grief
All the others did proceed
Until our hero's name was truly "Mud!"
Demoralised, in disbelief,
Proud Tom, now a broken reed,
Heard voices raised, demanding someone's blood.

When the flats became divided
Ere they toppled to the floor,
When lights began to flicker, then to sway,
That's the moment Tom decided
He could not take any more;
He bottled out, escaped, and ran away.
Should you ever be invited
South of Khatmandu, make sure
You visit Tom, if only for a day;
But don't let him get excited
And don't dare confess, if you're
Stage-managing an Alan Ayckbourne play!


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