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The Penny Posy

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  • The Penny Posy


    It was my weekly habit then to join some friends at seven,
    In the parlour of the Carlton where we'd drink till gone eleven,
    We'd drink and laugh and laugh and drink, and sing the latest ditty,
    Then we'd bid farewell, we jolly swells, the finest in the city.

    I thought I'd better tell you this or I might just confuse you all,
    And so you see that this night started quite the same as usual,
    Our evening had been one of fun, and having paid my tally,
    I slipped into my new topcoat and slipped out into the alley.

    I tottered neath the gaslight having knocked back one too many,
    And then from a flower girl I bought a posy for a penny,
    Though worse for wear admittedly, I saw so very clearly
    That the flower seller was a girl that I could cherish dearly.

    She pinned the posy to my coat to spare my drunken fumbling,
    I was quite transfixed, I felt my heart a-leaping and a-tumbling,
    She turned to go, I gently bade her, "Madam, do please tarry,
    I'd be truly honoured if you'd say that you'd agree to marry."

    "But sir," she said, "kind sir," she said, "you're surely not straight-thinking,
    And your offer's but a consequence of all that you've been drinking,"
    "It's true," I said, "I've have had a few, quite more than two or three, it
    Really matters not a jot, I know true beauty when I see it."

    "But sir," she said "kind sir," she said with fretful consternation,
    "It's impossible to marry you, you're way above my station,
    I am, sir, but a flower girl and you're a toff and wealthy,
    And a union between us, sir, would surely be unhealthy."

    "But madam what care I for all these silly class conventions,
    They are pish and tosh and tommyrot, and born of high pretensions,"
    "Your words," she said, "are charming but you're drunkenly besotted,"
    Then she curtsied, said good night, and proudly turned and off she trotted.

    My heart was set, I followed her a mile and a quarter,
    When she coyly dropped her handkerchief I knew that I had caught her,
    Yet even in the gaslight I could see that she was blushing,
    As I handed her her handkerchief, unable to stop gushing.

    I rested on some railings till my head refrained from reeling,
    Then I said to her "Dear madam I must tell you what I'm feeling.
    I've never, madam, felt in all my life such deep adoring,
    And until you say you'll be my wife I shall not cease imploring."

    "But sir," she said "kind sir," she said, "I don't know what to call you,
    And you shouldn't wed a stranger knowing not what might befall you."
    "Forgive me, my name's William, my friends all call me Willy,"
    "And kind sir, my name is Lillian, but you may call me Lily."

    "Well Willy if we were to wed we'd have to ask my father,
    And tommorrow would be good," she said, "or now if you would rather.
    It's past midnight, but that's all right, he works at Covent Garden,"
    "Then let's go there now, dear Lily," my resolve began to harden.

    I looked around and then flagged down a passing Hackney carriage,
    "Make good haste, my man, this lady's hand I'm due to seek in marriage."
    The driver wished us both good luck "I hope it turns out rosy,
    And this ride's on me, it's free, but I'll accept a penny posy."

    The market at that time was was so exceptionally busy
    That the search for Lily's father left me breathless and quite dizzy,
    "I see him now", she said, "he's over by those artemesias."
    And we found him minutes later doing something with some fresias.

    "My Lily dear, why are you here at this time of the morning?
    It's a nice surprise, don't get me wrong, but I'd prefer some warning."
    "Forgive me sir," I said, "We have just met in Piccadilly,
    And we hurried here so I could ask to marry your sweet Lily."

    "Young man," he said, "I am impressed, I don't mean to be funny
    But I do infer from how you're dressed that you're a toff with money.
    And I am poor, I can't afford a wedding, it's with sadness
    That I must say no, if things weren't so, I'd say 'of course' with gladness."

    "If that is all that's keeping you from giving us permission
    Then my offer, sir, may help you reconsider your position.
    I will, sir, pay for the whole day and pay for it with pleasure,
    And I'll buy for you a tailored suit and top hat for good measure."

    "I thank you sir, you seem to me a man of good intention
    But what you propose it goes against all marital convention.
    And I sir have my pride and I know well what is expected
    Of the father of the bride if he aspires to be respected."

    "I have a house in Eaton Square, another down in Devon,
    I can well afford a wedding and in fact I could buy seven.
    So sir can we not man-to-man sit down and talk about it,
    As two gents we can shake hands upon a deal I do not doubt it."

    While Lily waited patiently we sat down by some yuccas
    Where we cracked a bottle open and we chatted like old muckers,
    I told him of my family and all the land I'm heir to
    And I asked him on his story to expand if he would care to.

    His kith and kin were Cockneys and to Covent Garden loyal,
    And as pearly kings and queens they were considered rightly royal,
    I asked about his wife and what she'd think about the wedding
    But I wished I hadn't when I saw the tears that he was shedding.

    "God rest her soul, her mother died when Lily was a baby
    So I brought her up myself, I've tried my level best, but maybe
    I could have tried much harder to provide her proper schooling,
    She deserves a better life so sir I hope that you're not fooling."

    "I'm sorry sir to hear about the loss of Lily's mother,
    And of Lily, sir, I think you should be proud, she's like no other,
    I promise, sir, I'll share with her all that's at my disposal
    And she'll never rue the day when she accepted my proposal."

    We talked and we negotiated for what seemed like hours
    And agreed that I'd pay for the church and he'd provide the flowers,
    And I'd take care of Lily's dress, a dress of her own choosing
    And provide the food and drink, there'd be much eating and much boozing.

    The wedding went without a hitch, the bells rung from the steeple,
    And attending were my Carlton pals and Lily's flower people,
    My Lily looked as lovely as I'd been anticipating,
    And the bishop, my good friend, was perfect at officiating.

    The flowers in the church were quite beyond all expectations,
    Lily's father said he'd cadged them from his friends and his relations,
    I wore a penny posy to remind me how it started,
    It was dawn outside the Carlton when we jadedly departed.

    I loaded up the Bentley with essentials and provisions
    And I drove her rather gently, fearing drink-induced collisions,
    For Lily it was thrilling to be driven in a motor,
    And I found myself enchanted, quite the love-enraptured doter.

    She asked me on the way "How will they treat me in the country?
    Won't they gossip in their tearooms and accuse me of effrontery?
    I bet they'll giggle in their halls and snigger in their manses
    And invite me to their balls not under any circumstances."

    "Dear Lily, there'll be none of this aloofness please don't worry,
    If I hear of any snootiness my favour they'll not curry,
    I will not stand for snobbery or any form of sniffing,
    Darling, please let me assure you it will all be rather spiffing."

    My butler, Barrett, and his staff had come outside to meet us,
    As we drove across the gravel, to the door they stood to greet us,
    They curtsied and they bowed and offered their congratulations,
    And they welcomed their new mistress with their warm felicitations.

    Dear Mrs Barnes, my cook, she had prepared a simple supper,
    One that wouldn't overfill us and our consummation scupper,
    A dozen oysters, chocolate mousse, champagne, all quite delicious,
    And the atmosphere created was remarkably auspicious.

    When Mrs Green, my housekeeper, first heard about our wedding,
    She prepared a double room with double bed and double bedding,
    She scented it, and candle-lit the room so warm and cosy,
    And upon each pillow she had placed a perfect penny posy.

    My Lily took to country life despite all her anxiety,
    And as my wife was quite adored by Devonshire society,
    And to their halls and manses she was frequently invited,
    Her appearance at their balls left all the hosts and guests delighted.

    On his retirement Lily's father lived with us in Devon,
    "Oh, compared to London", he would say, "it is a piece of heaven."
    He loved the people, loved the place and loved the gothic towers,
    And he loved the garden, loved the space to grow his favourite flowers.

    We had two children, Jane and Freddy, both were great successes
    When they each went up to Oxford to enjoy life's great excesses,
    Young Freddy married Lady Rose, and Jane the Duke's first cousin,
    Soon the house was ringing with the sound of children by the dozen.

    Now many years have passed since then, and we've grown so much older,
    I have never lost my love for Lily, it grows ever bolder,
    We live a life of happiness as fortunate as any,
    And we ne'er forget it started with that posy for a penny.

  • #2
    Puts me in mind of "My Fair Lady" - a bit. True story? We all love fairy tales come true.


    • #3
      Alas it's not a true story.

      Yes, a sprinkling of My Fair Lady, a dash of Downton Abbey and a twist of PG Wodehouse.


      • #4
        Mr T, this write is desperately in need of an illustrator!
        Well done sir!


        • #5
          Quite a story east to read and engaging to hold my attention


          • #6
            Thank you both. Really pleased you enjoyed it.

            Yes, maybe I'll get around to drawing a few scenes from it.


            • #7
              Well I'd certainly say you got your money's worth. Shut up Narayan.


              • RhymeLovingWriter
                RhymeLovingWriter commented
                Editing a comment
                Took care of that. Hope it's not another 'wangpen' type abuser. The zone is a lovely place without those spambots.