The Saga of Deneys Reitz - An Epic Poem
(Well, tolerable doggerel - Charlotte)
THE SAGA OF DENEYS REITZ
Here's Don and there's Charlotte at the end of their careers.
The mortgage is paid, nor's the rent in arrears.
As senility approaches, their retirement must loom,
Followed by incontinence and Zimmers, a prospect of gloom.
Then over a dinner, washed down by much wine
They cried, “We're not going to fester or go into decline.
Old age's not for us, our zest you can't curb,
We'll sail down the wide Danube and conquer the Serb.”
“Alas,” said brave Don, “if we're down the Danube to float,
We'll need huge stocks of wine and a much bigger boat!
But where will we find this triumph of the boat-builders art?”
“I've the solution”, said Charlotte, “Its in Exchange and Mart.”
So anxiously scanning through hundreds of pages
And millions of ads, it seemed to take ages
But finally, there at the end of that traders' Mail
Sat a little advert, “£10,000, Lifeboat for sale.”
The first phone conversation is hardly auspicious
The man on the blower sounds rather suspicious
Says, “Oh well, come and view if you will
But it's covered in snow and the water is chill”
So in the middle of winter, as the chill gales did waft,
Our Don hastens to Canvey to view the fair craft.
There stands Dave. Is he posh? Nah! 'eaven forfend.
He's a fine, upright product of London's East End.
Dave strives for a bargain, as only Eastenders can.
“Nah, Don, no duckin' and divin', this deal's man to man.
£12 k's a great deal: boat, tools, including some wrenches
And seeing it's you, I'll chuck in the park benches.”*
* Screwed to the foredeck to attract Dave's wife Sylve to go on the boat. A failed stratagem.
So this time with boat-builder Tony, by car through the snow
To suss the old lifeboat together we go,
Down the A12, A130, mile after mile
To that tropical paradise, the fair Canvey Isle.
Says Tony, “Though it's big, let's be bold.
This craft holds great promise, though it may be quite old.”
The fateful decision is made, the die cast.
“We'll buy the old heap, including the mast.”
Now Spring is unfolding, and the weather is mild.
The boat is transported to the yard of Bad Baron G*******d.#
Three months later, near broke and groaning under bills,
“We have an idea,” say Tony and Paul, “We'll take to the hills.”
# For legal purposes, an entirely fictional character, although such people are believed to have roamed Norfolk in the Middle Ages, robbing and pillaging.
“Supported by lifeboat, as our business gets bigger, we
Can splash out, expand and lease a fine Piggery!”
So once again, with no sadness, the boat takes to the road.
At Upton, a country haven, the boat we unload.
Then they all cried out to a woman and a man,
“Alas, we have a fine lifeboat, but we have nae a PLAN.”
Then, as if by magic, comes a man of great knowledge,
A sage, much famed in his home town of Woodbridge.+
+This verse and the next two are written in the style of the great and blessed William Mc Gonegal, the world's greatest poet.
Then said Charlotte and Don, “Good John, we humbly request
That you give us your great wisdom as a bequest,
And working with all your well-known sagacity
Design us a fine boat of the maximum capacity.”
Says John, “A man of my experience can create a great Plan
And all must abide by it; each one, woman and man.
But from Woodbridge to Upton is too far to roam.
So I'll do it if you purchase a small mobile home.”
ON WITH THE DRAMA
So the Plan is assembled, at a moderate pace
Showing the great scheme of things, with every detail in place.
As the Plan indicates, the task is immense,
But with optimism and flair, the great work can commence.
For the first progress meeting, the news is fantastic.
“We have modern materials which turn wood into plastic,
Glass fibre sheet, 'WEST', and barrel loads of mastic,
And new wonderful stuff which makes budgets elastic!”
So, though Winter and Summer, men sweat over the boat,
Each with a precise role, decided by vote**,
Apart from poor Don, with no skills in his hands, and few in his head,
He lies under the boat, in cold water, on a miserable bed%.
** Rubbish, but it rhymes.
% This bit is true, I can tell you!
Summer follows Winter. “When will we complete?”
Cries Don, whose bank balance is no longer replete.
Says the team, “We can see that your bank manager is vexed.
So, it will be ready this Summer, or perhaps, next.”
The suspense it is terrible, enough to make strong minds bend.
Don and Charlotte, in private, ask “When will it end?”
“Have mercy!” says Don, “the stress makes me ill.
Let's now go and end it, upon Hanging Hill!”*
*Hanging Hill is the site of the old gallows near Upton, Norfolk
Says the “A” team, “We've had a meeting and we now can reveal
That the task's near completed, which your composure will heal.
Crane and Truck can be ordered, we'll all get on our bike
To see our wonderful creation put in Upton Dyke.”
SALUTE TO GREAT HEROES
So now the great saga is nearing its end,
It's time to laud great heroes and congratulations to send,
To John Krejsa and Tony, Simon and Pauls large and small, #
These are the creators, great supermen all.
# Rumoured to be references to:
- John Krejsa, master shipwright, probably also a Time Lord
- Paul Watts, engineer extraordinaire and inventor of amazing machines.
- Tony Hewitt, boatbuilder, kitchen creator, ace procrastinator and Norfolk wit
- Paul Harvey, shipwright, perfectionist and scourge of Don
- Simon Hewitt, Jack of all trades; like dog s...t, he got everywhere
What can we say of Paul Watts, who has talent in hoards
Engineer, welder, electrician and friend of the Wards!**
Genial, 'we can do it', man of strongest intention
Finds it easy to terrify poor Don with another invention!
**Thought to be a reference to Tania Ward, the fair supplier of marine electrical goods to the gentry (and Don)
And then there's John Krejsa, amongst ship-wrights the best,
Not a mystic from the East, more a worshipper of 'WEST.' ***
Neither optimist nor pessimist, not known as loquacious
But listen and wonder at his words always sagacious.
*** A noxious substance, much used by John Krejsa for mysterious purposes. The space round the boat was frequently littered with tins of dried 'West', with paint-brushes sticking out of them. Don suspects he sniffs it.
Stern father of Simon, man of many parts,
Tennis, wit, kitchens, boats are some of his arts.
Whatever Tony does, it will be done with great flair,
Especially to conjure budgets out of thin air!
Next, young Paul, who is not at all small,
Modest, great craftsman, huge challenges, he's mastered them all.
Of difficult tasks and the front cabin he's got a grip.
Says: “Now, Don, have you sanded? Watch that paint, there's a drip.”
Jack of all trades, quiet observer, it's quite true it
And much more can be said of Simon Hewitt.
Making invisible components is his special art,
Without which the whole caboodle would sure fall apart.
Now the boat would not be finished, when all's said and done
Without the skillful ministrations of Stuart and son.@
When they eventually came it wasn't Ho-day or Hi-day.
They started scrimming on Tuesday and finished by Friday
@ Possibly a reference to Stuart Bailey, the man who knows glass reinforced plastic like a dog knows fleas, who after much pleading and the threat of sending Charlotte to see him, finally came and coated the superstructure with magic stuff.
Of the great team there are so many more -
Ray and Derek, hard at work making kitchens by the score,
To give encouragement they can greatly afford
And we mustn't forget the fair Tania Ward!
Upholstery expert and interior design overseer
As a joke Don has given her the role of Queen Boadicea.
“Now lads, do your work, don't get up to your tricks
Or Charlotte will descend like a huge load of bricks!”
Last and definitely least, Don the proud owner
Lost under the boat, a role for a loner.
“Don, sweep the yard, sand the boat.” For everyone a butt,
Friends: shed a tear for the plight of poor ****, old***** 'Put******'.
**** Poor = completely bankrupt and a pathetic figure.
***** Old = driven to premature old age by excessive physical labour and worry.
****** Named after the honourable craft of 'Puttyman', one who spends his life lying on his back filling cracks with the noxious substance.
So lads, raise a full glass to brave “DENEYS REITZ”
As in her new guise the wide oceans she greets.
A ship of great majesty, to fill yachties with dread
She'll sail on the great briny fuelled by wines white and red!