The Georgetowne House Toure

As Experienced by an Olde Englisheman, with Apologies to Chaucer, Milton, Dryden, whoever.

Wen Aprylle turns its annual Course
Then house-bounde wimmin comme out in force,
Enjoy the birdyes and the freshe Springe aire
That in their Citye is so pure and clare.
They folde their Pullovers and winter Smockes,
And don their Sneakers and forego their Sockes.
With back-packes, visors and reluctant Spouses,
They set off to examine Rich Men's Houses.
No Grand Tour has such classical allure
As Georgetowne's renowned spring House Toure.

To snoop, to prye, to gape, and dubiously to stare
Is alle Creation's Nature everywhere.
Plato somewhere must have mentioned it,
And Shakespeare too, although he rote with wit.
Noseynesse goes backe unto the Arc,
Attested to by Ovid and Petrarch.
When in the Arc the Beastes had reached their limit,
They promptly, curiously nosed about within it.
Male gods on Mount Olympus poked all day
Round Aphrodite's lodgings, when away.

In Horace, Virgil, Seneca you'll find
Evidence of the Enquiringe Minde:
Their character, imagination, what?
What do the Wealthie have that I have not?
Is this their Taste, or that of a Designer?
That Rugge, Hand-made or mass-produced in China?
Faced with Personality with famous name,
They ache to ape him and thus to buy the same.
Lives of Rich and Famous cause such chatter;
How they maketh money seldom seems to matter.

Thus do I find myself shepherding the Flocke,
Standing in a Butler's Pantry, choc-a bloc
With Touristes, mostly wimmin, sticky-beaking.
And while they're down the old Dumb-waiter peeking,
I'm explaining how in Olden Times
Little Children charged with Household Crimes
Would be in that contraptioun spirited away.
Up? Down? Who cares? Have a pleasant day!
Levity is by a certain Publick right misunderstood;
If the Owner's rich then surely he is Good.

First comes a Ladye, and up she roundly spoke:
Those cupboards are all Olde and made of Oak,
Well made, inconvenient, and too high.
Which was my cue to telle her frankly why
The owners of this grande olde Mansion
Had undergone a recent Great Expansion
They were two Yonge and sliteley-builded newlyweds
Who couldn't reach those Shelves above their Heads.
Thus, this original culinary centre ditching,
They found they had to build a brand new Kitchen.

This bane a wee cookery for the size of Hoose!
Quoth second visitor (I've rendered her quite loose).
Yes, saith I, designed thus by a Man
To keep his wife confined with Frying Pan,
And all the accoutrements for cooking
And reaching saucepans without even looking;
Wi' never an inch to fit in an Assistant,
The risk of being asked to help was distant.
Asked to chop an onion he could in faith reply,
I cannot fit. If fitting, both would cry.

So off the Visitors go, excited and intent,
Repeating Faery Tales I did invent,
Filled with ideas of Lampes and Shades
And Papery Patternes and Fine Brocades;
Copious Storage and sufficient Drawers;
Of Windowe treatments and of Antique Floors;
Of pictures of the Great and sometimes Good;
Of sideboards, dining tables, foreign food.
And so depart in splendid spending humour
Like any credit card carrying Consumer.

Good owners? It's in part noblesse oblige,
And part the open house is for Prestige,
To build Repute, an elevated Perch,
And raise some Moneys for the local Church.
We hope they neither fret nor greatly care
About attendant toffee-papers, wear and tear,
Or sticky fingers. And we dearly trust
They do not care about the dirt and dust.
We also hope they never overheard
Some comments from among the Herde:

That colour doesn't go in here at all,
And I'd take out the intervening wall.
They've muddled modern stuff with the antiques
The drapes don't match, that floorboard creaks.
This Room looks empty, that is far too full.
The Pictures second-rate, both old and dull.
This Shelf has not been dusted for three Weekes.
The bassin in the downstairs toilet leakes.
Think of the time and efforte that it took
To reddy all so they could come and looke!

It's Human Natur thus to picke apart
That which is done in genuine well-meant parte.
To cavil, carp and playe the wise and knowing,
To dream imagined Splendours while you're crowing;
And boost yourself when you are thereby faced
With evidence of far superior Taste.
The Critics have for sure an undoubted edge--
The unexampled dubious Privilege--
Of never having to themselves endure
Their own version of the well-known spring House Toure.

Wen the next Aprylle turns its annual Course
Then house-bounde wimmin will again in force
Enjoy the birdyes and the freshe Springe aire
That in their Citye is so pure and clare.
They'll folde their Pullovers and winter Smockes,
And don their Sneakers and forego their Sockes.
With back-packes, visors and reluctant Spouses,
They will examine different Rich Men's Houses.
No owner wants to undergo, I'm sure
For two years running Georgetowne's spring House Toure.

May 8, 2006