Life Lessons

Ballad of the Treble Balls

[Harrow-on-the-Hill, 1965]
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When once I found a wedding ring,
   (Whose ring it was I thought I knew),
I picked it up and pawned the thing
   To fetch myself a pound or two.

That night my conscience up and stirs
   To set his hounds upon the track:
‘You bloody fool, you know its hers,
   Now go and buy the damn thing back!’

I knew I’d crossed the line to thief,
   (A lame excuse is but a sop);
Dawn found me, suit in hand, beneath
   The treble balls of Satan’s shop,

Though truth to tell, the demon there
   Was kindliness itself to me,
For all his rheumy, knowing stare,
   And eyes as cold as charity  —

For all the suit was poorly pressed,
   He swapped it for the ring, and then
He yawned: ‘My son, I think it best
    I never see your face again.’

I took the ring and climbed the Hill
   To find its owner gone away...
No forwarding address.  Worse still,
   They’d left a scribbled note to say:

‘We’ve split for Goa.  Tally-ho!
& thanks for all the laughs, old mate,
We couldn’t take the budgie, though —
   He’s yours to keep, love Bill & Kate.’

Today my suits are custom built,
   They hang like convicts on parade
Beneath the treble balls of guilt —
   A debt of youth still yet unpaid.