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The Party Piece ©

Dedicated to the Hills of Hillend, Peter and Branda.

Gordon Fjaelberg
Bridgend, Wales
1978

"We all must do a Party Piece!"
I shrank back in my seat;
I'd had my fill of sandwiches
And brandy, taken neat,
For which I'd paid no pittance
So this small request seemed fair,
Yet I could neither sing nor dance -
My soul was in despair.

The blind piano player
Pounded out a merry tune,
The fiddler and accordionist
Were coming on quite soon,
And then, it was the singer's turn.
Well, I loved her at first sight;
I'd follow her to Hell and back,
But must I start tonight?

The pianist stopped playing
And the fiddler struck a note;
I tried to sing along, I tried,
But the words stuck in my throat.
The host and hostess revelled
At the way their party swung,
In came the accordionist
Then every rafter rung.

The music swirled around the room
Until the corners filled,
The air was rife with bonhomie
And yet, my heart was chilled.
I put my mind in over-drive
And sorely taxed my brain
To think of just one song I knew;
Alas, 'twas all in vain.

Until, in one brief, blinding moment
Inspiration stopped me dead,
As the brandy and the sandwiches
Went rushing to my head.
I'd recite a funny poem
Which I thought I'd long forgot,
But as the words came rushing back
I realised - I'd not!

The fiddler and accordionist
Had played one last encore,
Demolishing their whiskies
And ignoring cries for more.
The singer winked at me, and stood,
Was any man more vexed?
I'm caught in mid-emotion
For she loves me - I'm on next!

The lady fair sang tenderly
Of sweethearts and their dreams,
Of love most unrequited,
Of fields, and trees, and streams.
Her gentle voice, melodious,
Enthralled both young and old,
And none were there could,
From their eyes, the bitter tears hold.

She sat in silent elegance
As handkerchiefs were drawn,
Moisture gently dabbed from eyes,
And noses subtly blown.
Then acclaim erupted
Much like thunder in the sky;
Despite my situation,
None applauded more than I.

My throat now started drying
As all eyes upon me turned,
But I'd rehearsed my offering,
Those drinks would soon be earned.
I stood to give my Party Piece
With mouth all poised to speak,
Yet no words could I utter,
Neither syllable nor squeak.

I strove in desperation,
Still not a word would come;
Seconds dragged like Centuries,
My heart beat like a drum.
Oh, no! That long lost poem
Which I'd carefully rehearsed,
Receded in the mists of time;
My final bubble burst.

Wild-eyed, like some cornered rat,
I sought for sympathy;
The lady singer turned away,
She would not look at me.
I couldn't stand there, open-mouthed,
And leave them all bereft,
I'd make some off-the-cuff remark;
It's all that I had left.

As eons begat eons
In their quaint, old-fashioned way,
I couldn't help myself
And everybody heard me say:
"Here's a speedy exhibition
Of metalwork, I'm sure
You'll all enjoy it", as I made
A quick bolt for the door.



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