This clever poem pokes fun at early 1940s British class structure, but then reflects on how in time of crisis men are brothers and “personality’s what you are.” It is one of four poems by A. Forman in Robert Dickinson’s diary.
School tie days are over!
Now twenty-four years ago was born,
An Archibald. Monty. Derek. Thorne.
His father was a Duke or Sir,
A nobleman one would infer,
He thought he’d join this bloomin’ war,
Because he loved old England’s shore.
And, though he was a rich man’s son,
He didn’t care for any hun.
Besides this though, t’is sad to state,
He was doomed to a drunkard’s fate.
For he was bad right through and through
Although his blood was coloured blue.
In barracks he would seldom dress,
And be the last to eat at mess;
He’d drink, and curse, just didn’t care,
For wasn’t he an only heir.
And he would swank, with, “Dash it all”
“Oh! I say old top”, and, “Won’t you call”,
And one day to our great alarm,
In walked Archie arm in arm
With some beautiful blonde he’d found in the street,
Who had baby blue eyes, and small pretty feet!
But he was never put in “clink”,
He was an Eton boy, I think.
And then one starlit Eastern night,
We heard that we were off to fight;
To pack our traps and leave next morn,
“Rise and Shine” before the dawn.
At Derna we were captured though.
Archie putting up a darn good show.
Off we went to a prison-camp,
Where Arch forgot he was a scamp.
He forgot his father and birth,
And showed what he was really worth,
All the blue blood in his veins,
By sharing all our trials and pains.
He shared his food, and laughed, with us.
Gave us help, and chaffed, with us.
And very soon we forgot he’d been,
The drunken fop of “Wet Canteen”.
Now, there’s a moral to this yarn,
T’is this, one doesn’t care a darn,
Your personality’s what you are,
Which only you can make, or mar,
As long as you can play the game,
We don’t care, what’s your blinkin’ name!