Harry Graham
In foreign travel one may find a means to exercise the mind
To broaden those parochial views which stay-at-homes so seldom lose
Until, with Baedeker in hand, they leave their own, their native land.

A relative of mine, Aunt Maud, for years had longed to go abroad
She pined to breathe the ampler air of Schnitzelbad or Plage-sur-Mer
She often felt that she would choke if she remained in Basingstoke.

Alas! She could not ever rouse responsive feelings in her spouse
Who, when the subject was discussed, displayed no signs of wanderlust
"The Air of Basingstoke," said he, "Is plenty good enough for me."

In vain Aunt Maud, at Christmas, eyed the Continental Railway Guide
At Whitsun, wistfully she'd look through folders sent by Lunn and Cook
She stared at maps, all Easter week, like Cortez, silent, in a pique.

The strain, at length, became too great. Encouraged by her daughter Kate
Her husband's wishes she defied, turned (Like a worm too sorely tried)
And, heedless of the nuptual yoke, shook off the dust of Basingstoke.

As when some parrot from the East, by Fate from gilded cage released
Will scarcely pause to wipe its mouth upon the perch ere hastening South
So flew Aunt Maud, without delay, and booked her passage to Bombay.

The Vicar begged her not to go, suggesting Aix-les-Bains or Pau
As better suited to her age than any land where tigers rage
And still grass-widows, one presumes, Cremate themselves on husband's tombs.

He told of Chaplains from these Isles who'd been consumed by crocodiles
Who'd tried to start a Sunday School for Moslems, near a sacred pool
Whose flock, upon St Cuthbert's* day, had pushed them in and run away.

He told of others who'd been stung while Offertory Hymns were sung
Ere they'd converted one Hindu or learnt to preach in pure Babu
(Some Brahmin rival, need I state? had put a cobra in the plate).

Unmoved, Aunt Maud declared that she must hold the gorgeous East in fee
Must hear the sound of temple bells, must taste the joys, and smell the smells
Of rickshaws, sweepers, and bazaars, and tifin 'neath the deodars.

She bought her outfit at the Stores, a spear for sticking pigs (or boars)
A solar helmet, called topee, two punkahs and a puggaree
An air gun, too, because (with luck) she hoped to bag a Bombay duck.

She had her sunshade lined with green, she filled her pockets with quinine
Mosquito-netting, too, she bought, and - this was quite an afterthought
A horsehair switch for keeping flies from elephants' and bullocks' eyes.

She ordered special underclothes of dungaree and cellulose
A jaeger sleeping-bag with flaps, a rubber bath that would collapse
And, since her figure was rotund, she bought an 'outsize' cummerbund.

So, in due course, she reached Bombay, she'd meant to make a lengthy stay
But, just within a week, alack, a cable came to call her back
Announcing that her daughter Kate proposed to wed a plumber's mate.

She hastened swiftly home, in time, to stop her offspring's social crime
(The plumber chose another mate, but rendered an 'account to date'
Including in his modest claim 'Man's time' and 'Making good the same.')

Back home in Basingstoke today, Aunt Maud still dreams about Bombay
She much surprised the local cow by weaving garlands for its brow
Her country-seat - it's called 'The Pines' - is run on Anglo-Indian lines.

Her coachman has become a syce, she makes her chauffeur live on rice
Her ancient butler thrilled with joy when first referred to as her 'boy'
For meals she rings a temple gong, and wears a very smart sarong**.

The Vicar, when he comes to dine, describes her curries as divine
Her daughter Kate has found at last a suiter of becoming caste
She's got engaged to Lord St Barbe, half-witted, but a pukka sahib.

I love to hear Aunt Maud enlarge, on problems of the British Raj
On questions that concern the East, her talk is a perpetual feast
And who so qualified to speak? She's lived in India - for a week!

* The Patron Saint of fish

** Sarongs are only in Burma
Writer - and in Basingstoke.
The end