SUSAN McALISTER
BEVINGTON-BALES
by
Lesley Gordon

To the house of her teacher, one Isabel Beake
With a large leather music-case three times a week
Regardless of snowstorms, depressions or gales
Went Susan McAlister Bevington-Bales
Since her fat baby arms to the keyboard she'd lift
She had had what her mother described as a 'gift'
And so the improvement of Susan's technique
Was entrusted - per term - to Isabel Beake.

'What an ear!' said her Pa. 'What a touch!' cried her Aunt
'What feeling!' her friends and relations would chant
And old Uncle John said it made his heart yearn
To hear Susan playing 'The Robin's return'
But in spite of success and her growing repute
Came a fly in the ointment, a rift in the lute
For Susan McAlister Bevington-Bales
Though partial to music, would not play her scales.

Her lesson would start with the scale of A flat
The teacher would render it something like that......
And Miss Beake not unnaturally thought it amiss
When Susan responded with something like this.......
At arpeggios bungled with touch inelastic
Miss Isabel Beake would grow cold and sarcastic
At similar blunderings in the chromatic
Miss Isabel Beake would wax warm and dramatic
The child who shirks scales - said Misss Beake - will become
A woman whose fingers are each one a thumb
But Susan McAlister Bevington-Bales
In spite of this warning would not play her scales.

The scene is now changed, it is Broadcasting House
And whose is that figure as quiet as a mouse
That trembles and starts, and now flushes, now pales
Why, Susan McAlister Bevington-Bales
Observe how she timidly takes her position
To play in a British Broadcasting audition
And listen once more to that haunting refrain
The Robin, it seems, is returning again
But before the first movement had drawn to a close
The Director of Music with dignity rose
And said as he saw Aunt Sophie turn pale
'That person can never have heard of a scale.'
And through the vast doors of the cold BBC
Crept Susan McAlister Bevington-B.

But early next morning, oh hark, what is that?
It is Susan attacking the scale of A flat
And as I was taking my afternoon tea
I heard the chromatic commensing on C
And mingled with buses and hooters and bells
Arpeggios leaping like lively gazelles
Con brio on the uppermost peak
(The neighbours are moving on Saturday week)

It is Broadcasting House. Several years pass away.
How familiar that figure just ceasing to play
'Enchanting!' says Sophie, 'Divine' whispers Mac
'Miss Bales, we are happy to welcome you back.'
'And here is your contract we beg you to sign
Your signature here, if you please, on this line
But before you go further - we may call you Sue?'
Which shows what continual practice will do.

The end