Before he came the bakewell tart
Was zenith of the baker's art.
The soggy, tasteless custard cream
Was held in general disesteem,
And pastries laid out limp and old
Lay gathering dust, despised, unsold
In dingy cafes where the crumbs
Graced table tops. Oh, sticky thumbs!
Oh spores of penicillium!
Oh floors of brown linoleum!

Enter Marco, master baker,
Marketer and moneymaker.
He's the one who's instrumental
In making cafés Continental.
His fresh fruit tarts, all á la carte
Set Marco's bakery apart.
What a change the man has wrought!
He charges more, and more is bought!
Compared with Bonn or Budapest
Marco's cafés are the best
Roman cakes are just as nice
(But note that they are but half the price).
He's met a need, one can't deny it -
If you're wealthy and can buy it —
Establishing a useful niche
A'Mongst London's Russian super-rich.

You can't begrudge the huge success
Of Marco's culinary noblesse.
Happy his banker, all content!
Happy his punters, money spent!
Happy Ferrari, new car sold!
Happy the business, rolled in gold!

It comes therefore as a surprise,
That discontent in Marco's eyes.
He's thin, he's haggard, tired and worn.
At least he can't be overdrawn!
He's worked so hard from dawn to dusk,
Once fairly cheerful, now he's brusque.
Hath dropped a tenner, found a pound?
Lost ticket on the Underground?
As for fun, he hasn't any,
He cannot pause to spend a penny,
Swap a yarn or have a chat,
Or give a neighbour's dog a pat.
From lots of fun his task's become
A hunt for every tiny crumb
Of petty waste he can delete
To boost the wretched balance sheet.
Come end of day he will decline
An opportunity to dine.
His preference would be by far
A sandwich in his motor car —
And by himself, for "people cost"
Is time and precious money lost.
Meaning - and this is no surprise -
He has no wish to socialize.

Surely life can sweetly hold
More meaning than a pot of gold?
What is all his effort for - -
Just more, and more, and more, and more?
He has the cash but has no life,
And after hours no joy, no wife.
Just let him stop and smell the air,
Pause for a moment, stand and stare;
Reflect upon this frantic rhythm
That no, he cannot take it with'm.
For in the end some shiftless heir
Will spend the lot without a care!

November 2005