Complacency (part 1)

The olde worlde manne buffed up his puff
and spoke, mellifluously, but in a strangled voice
that whistled in his breath, through classic English teeth
not-quite-concealed below his baccy ‘tache…

“You know, I marinade my ego in my creative juice
(as someone may have said, in 1922);
I am a captain in the upper middle class –
haute bourgeoisie, by way of Tuscany –
my social life’s in rugby, the way it used to be,
and I’m the colonel of my family, haha!
although I can’t see past my elbow or, you know…
What’s that you say?  The seat of my pants?  Is on fire?!

“I used to be at Lloyd’s, haha, back in the day,
the good old days, when insiders had all the luck
and outside Names would leave their shirts behind;
that’s back before the Yankees came, of course,
and corporates (they’re much the same)
with rules and plans and oversight, with outsiders
who knew the score, and counted beans;
and so that game was up. Though not before…

“Ah. But. I mustn’t tell you that.  Haha!
So I took refuge in the Clubs, where yesterday was still in place 
and if you closed one eye, and squinted hard enough,
you’d see the shade of dear old Vic:
the Empress’ portrait on the wall, gazing on her world,
presiding, impotent, bereft, decked in her widow’s weeds;
as good old chaps like me showed moneyed foreigners
how things were done round here.   Haha…

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