The genius of the original Sea Gull Cellar Bar,
The one before the fire,
Was that when in position
The bartender could hear the front door
But not see it
And those who entered
Into the dark interior
Had to wait for their eyes to adjust
Before they could find their way
Through the ancient Persian carpets
Circular brass cocktail tables
Stuffed animal heads
This gave both bartender
Time to adjust
To a situation
Fraught with tension, even fear.
There are, after all, certain risks associated
With the serving and consumption
Of mind-altering and potentially deadly elixirs
Such as beer or booze
Or maraschino cherries.
Facing the bartender and guests at the bar,
Bracketing the enclosure,
Two oil paintings by way of disclosure
The Pied Piper and Cinderella.
Pay the Piper or else
In the morning everything returns
To the way it was before.
Easy to ignore
When you’re having fun.
The blowfish light by the back door
Was a subtle reminder
There is no known antidote to the poison.
The porcelain image of Sairy Gamp,
Epitaph of an old charwoman,
Embodied the truth that even the
Drunkest drunk could not ignore:
“Don’t pity me now, don’t pity me never,
I’m going to do nothing forever and ever.”
On going to do nothing for ever and ever: ‘On a Tired Housewife’ has become a popular comic poem, but its origins appear to have been in tragedy: the unknown charwoman who wrote it in 1905 effectively penned it as her suicide note, citing extreme fatigue as her reason for ending it all. Writing in a letter to Lady Robert Cecil about the poem, Virginia Woolf said that the jury at the coroner’s inquest found the charwoman to have been mad, ‘which proves once more what it is to be a poet in these days’. If the title of this poem is unfamiliar to you, the last line may ring some bells: shouldering the emotional and domestic labour may leave many women longing for the relative comfort of oblivion.
On a Tired Housewife
Here lies a poor woman who was always tired,
She lived in a house where help wasn’t hired:
Her last words on earth were: ‘Dear friends, I am going
To where there’s no cooking, or washing, or sewing,
For everything there is exact to my wishes,
For where they don’t eat there’s no washing of dishes.
I’ll be where loud anthems will always be ringing,
But having no voice I’ll be quit of the singing.
Don’t mourn for me now, don’t mourn for me never,
I am going to do nothing for ever and ever.’
“Don’t pity me now, don’t pity me never;
I’m going to do nothing for ever and ever.”
has been attributed to theater critic James Agate.