I am about to start submissions, again, and I hope this one doesn’t come back to bite me!
I wrote this little ditty almost thirty years ago. It was inspired by an experience I had at sixteen when I still had, misguided, aspirations about pursuing a career on the stage. I was at an ‘all-round’ college in London, and after my first lesson with our drama teacher, who was moonlighting from one of the leading London-based drama schools, I knew acting was never going to be the career for me.
He always wore a suit and tie, with a red carnation tucked in his buttonhole and smoked incessantly. Delivering his caustic comments with aplomb and the cadence of Noel Coward, from the corner of the poorly lit room he taught us in. After I’d stuttered my way through a previously unseen script of The Lady’s Not for Burning, the silhouetted figure took a long, slow drag of his fag and exhaled the words, ‘Darling, if you are harbouring asperations about going on the stage, forget it.’
Obviously, I adapted this doggerel so the brunt of his critique referred to my writing, rather than my acting abilities.
© Tessa Barrie
My dear… the trouble is it lacks imagination
There is absolutely no originality or guile
You say it’s taken you half your lifetime
To cultivate your method and your style
Oh dear me … what a shame I didn’t meet you sooner
I’d have put you on the road where you belong
For crafting words and moulding them into paragraphs
Is a talent that, for you, is not too strong
You see … I’ve guided many people in my lifetime
I’ve told them straight and never minced my words
I’ve proffered and given selflessly my words of wisdom
Sadly, many topped themselves soon after they heard
However … as a critic I far outrank those featured in the tabloids
You don’t have to be famous to ooze literary prowess
I know my job so well and carry it out to perfection
I call a spade a spade and nothing less
So darling … please don’t be despondent or disillusioned
Dry your eyes; your tears don’t become you at all
Please go! Before you have a nervous breakdown
And by the way, there’s a shrink just down the hall
Stand back! This is my final warning!
Take one step closer and I will take aim and fire
Just because you can’t take constructive criticism
Doesn’t give you the right to call me a liar!
Enough! My secretary’s called the Police and the Fire Brigade!
Her instructions include a straight jacket and a muzzle too
So please, just try to be a good girl
And accept that writing’s not the career for you